After the 'battle of the business cases' this week over plans for an inner city rail loop in Auckland, the words of Sam Morgan offer some wisdom to luddite politicians

It seems Steven Joyce is determined to go down in history, joining the list of government politicians that have denied Auckland a fully functioning rail network.

He's hardly the first. Wellington politicians have picked holes in Auckland's desire to have a transport platform other than roads for most of the 20th century, denying funding and insisting the sums don't add up.

This week Joyce followed the precedent, declaring Auckland's business case for a $2.4 billion CBD rail loop "under-cooked".

Its typical political obfuscation and stalling. And given that it's a National government undermining a Labour mayor's key campaign promise, it also has an odour of partisan politics.

It's hard to avoid the conclusion that Joyce's response was decided months, if not years, ago.

Not that Auckland local body politicians have needed much help hamstringing themselves down the years.

If you watched TVNZ7's Hindsight programme on Auckland transport, you'll have seen that Auckland councillors have stepped out of committee rooms at least three times in the past generation to declare Auckland's transport problems have finally been solved. Ta da: A tram system! Drum roll: Buses that run on a rail! Voila: An inner city train loop! Yep, even that phrase goes back decades.



This is the start of my post at To continue reading, click here. But feel free to add comments and debate below.

Comments (11)

by Mr Magoo on June 04, 2011
Mr Magoo

I think you are being overly pessimistic Tim...

by MikeM on June 04, 2011

"Wellington politicians have picked holes in Auckland's desire to have a transport platform other than roads for most of the 20th century, denying funding and insisting the sums don't add up."

I take the point of your post, but since you're talking strictly about politicians interfering and not the whole public service, it seems fitting to note that many Ministers and MPs and politicians generally are from anywhere but Wellington, and especially from Auckland.  But yeah, in Joyce's case he grew up in New Plymouth... not exactly the sort of place where people have a hope of living without frequent use of cars.

by DeepRed on June 04, 2011

And of course, there's Prostetnic Vogon Joyce's corresponding denial of the Holiday Highway's negateive BCR. From what I heard, he made Treasury re-cost it until they started telling him what he wanted to hear.

It's heartening to see the Opposition starting to call bullshit on the issue. If only they can get their PR act together and make a proper wedge issue out of it.

by nommopilot on June 04, 2011

"If those MPs in the '50s or '70s had bitten the bullet and built, imagine the billions saved by today."

even the money aside, imagine how many hours of time spent with their parents were/are foregone while said parents were leaving an hour and a half early for work and arriving home an hour and a half after they finished (I'm sure some people appreciate the downtime of sitting in traffic listening to the radio but there must be a more relaxing, less costly and environmentally damaging alternative to crawling your car slowly through traffic for a couple of hours every day)...

congested commuting is the enemy of worklife balance...

by on June 05, 2011

Tim, I might be overly sensitive but can you blame Joyce's dislike of anything but motorways and broadband on anything but his current work address? You sound like Brian Rudman!

Here in the 04 us "loyal" public service minions are watching our city get gutted by spending cuts, our property prices languish and then to top it all off we cop the blame when Christchurchians can't get their houses rebuilt (thanks to a bearacracy headed by a Cantabrian) and Aucklanders can't get some rail built (thanks to decisions made by a cabinet headed by an Aucklander).

As it is Wellington has had it own rail plans scuppered, the one roading project we really need to happen got shelved and we'll see $1 billion taken out of our local economy thanks to spending cuts, while Auckland gets 1/2 a billion for building yet more roads and Christchurch gets $8billion + to rebuild. So how about you focus on the idiots making the bad calls rather than beating up the those of us who just share a dialling code. After all more Aucklanders have voted for past and current govts than Wellingtonians. Rant over

On the actual debate, Aucklanders have never shown much enthusiasm for avoiding urban sprawl or for getting out of their cars, so perhaps the Government we all clearly deserve is simply giving Aucklanders the transport infrastructure it deserves?


by MikeM on June 06, 2011

Thanks Chris, for spelling it out better than I could. This isn't an "Auckland versus Wellington" thing. Despite matters often being put like that, the the only reason to do so is to rally local support for an imaginary conflict with short catchy phrases that put blame on those silenced from speaking up, as public servants usually are.

People in Auckland have massive amounts of influence over who forms a government. If Aucklanders really want their public transport fixed, perhaps the same people who elect Auckland's council should start standing and electing some MPs and prospective Ministers with whom they can work constructively, and who will actually push for that agenda instead of their own illogical pet projects.

by kathy tuakau on June 15, 2011
kathy tuakau

perhaps you should install the government back in auckland.we unfortunatly are now in northern waikato,per the mr hide who is not coming back,perhaps sometimes what goes around comes around,i always remember the harbour bridge fiascoe,when parliment mucked that up,we still are coping with the end result of that lot.

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