Highway decision kick in the guts for Northland
05 June 2021
by Chris Leitch, Leader
Lame excuses for cutting the Whangarei to Marsden Point Highway off the government's infrastructure agenda is a clear example of the Labour government's disinterest in one of New Zealand's most depressed regions.
It's another kick in the guts for Northland which has been promised bridges, highways, and a rail link to Marsden Point for decades by MPs from both National and Labour and in reality has got little.
The time taken to scope and design major infrastructure projects means construction costs are always going to exceed original projections but that's no excuse to put off doing them.
The projects are either needed or they’re not and cost should not be the decider.
The government has in excess of $40 billion dollars sitting in an account at the Reserve Bank that it has already borrowed at incredibly low interest.
It could use a tiny proportion of that, or it could use the capacity of the Reserve Bank to create the funding needed for infrastructure projects without facing any interest charges whatsoever if it chose to do so.
Hundreds of thousand of dollars have already been spent on planning and meeting with land owners over the purchase of land for the project, and all that will now be put on hold.
The landowners concerned, having had to make plans to accommodate the new highway, have had those plans thrown into disarray.
The rail link to Marsden Point will not reduce the hundreds of trucks carrying logs to the port that thunder down the main highway every week, so suggestions that reducing fossil fuel use is one of the drivers behind the decision to stop the project are nonsense.
Labour's Northland MPs, elected less than 12 months ago, promised at campaign meetings that they would stand up for Northland and make sure we got our fair share of allocated resources.
Those promises have turned out to be hollow.
Northland residents should send them an avalanche of messages telling them they won’t be voting for them in 2023 unless the decision is reversed.