Friday, 7 January 2022

Hillside an expensive vanity project


“The Government received advice from Treasury, KiwiRail and the Transport Ministry that the Dunedin Hillside Rail project was a political decision and not based on sound economic advice,” says ACT’s Transport spokesperson Simon Court.

“This is yet another example of this Government’s pattern of cynical political announcements on infrastructure.

“An OIA obtained by the ACT Party says “The final bid for Developing Domestic Rail Workshops is a Labour Party Manifesto Commitment. This bid is not currently supported by the Ministry. We consider that given the significant constraints on the Budget allowances and the higher priority of other Future of Rail bids that it is not a priority to progress at this time.”

“It goes on to say “KiwiRail has provided cost estimates showing that local wagon assembly costs are around 30 per cent higher than existing wagon procurement practice.”

“Attempts to buy support from special interest groups are destined to fail, just like the Auckland cycling and walking bridge, because this does nothing to solve real infrastructure problems.

“This project has a BCR of 0.3 that is even lower than the Auckland Bike Bridge.

“People in towns and regions want the Government to fix their roads and bridges, fix traffic congestion, and deliver the infrastructure to open up more land for housing.

“This waste of taxpayer funds will only produce a few dozen jobs while these wagons are assembled, then the workshop will most likely be mothballed.

“KiwiRail only needs to replace wagons every 15 to 20 years, so it’s far more practical as well as cheaper to simply order a batch from overseas suppliers who produce tens of thousands every year.

“New Zealand stopped assembling cars and TVs here in the 1980s because it made no sense to import boxes of parts, when fully assembled high quality equivalents were available at a fraction of the cost.

“New Zealanders are asking their government, when are you going to actually build infrastructure we need, rather than this series of political vanity and vote buying nonsense projects?

“ACT is proposing that the Infrastructure Commission takes the lead on prioritising vital projects by need alone, and that additional funding through PPPs is needed to close the huge infrastructure deficit as quickly as possible.

“ACT believes that approach, along with long term partnerships between regional and central government, will identify where and when vital infrastructure should be delivered to open up more land for housing, the most important problem facing New Zealand right now.”

A copy of the OIA can be found here.