“Minister of Transport Michael Wood has basically told Kiwis that their taxpayer dollars don’t matter when it comes to the cost of Labour’s transport projects,” says ACT’s Transport spokesperson Simon Court.

“When questioned in Parliament whether he stood by his claim that Waka Kotahi was spending money in a “proportionate and reasonable way”, Minister Wood doubled down and said that he is confident Waka Kotahi delivers expenditure that is responsible.

“Taxpayers would differ with his opinion though. Kiwis are going through a cost-of-living crisis and tightening their belts to get by. The Government should be doing the same.

“Just some examples of “proportionate and reasonable” spending according to Minister Wood are:

  • $311.9 million on a 4.5kim shared path between Petone and Ngauranga – possibly the most expensive cycleway in New Zealand at $69,000 per metre
  • $337,000 on an opening ceremony for Transmission Gully
  • $44,320 on an engineering review of two spinning top sculptures on the Waikato Expressway
  • $25 million on a new fit-out for the Waka Kotahi office
  • $51 million on developing the Auckland cycle bridge that was subsequently cancelled
  • $72.4 million to be spent on Lets Get Wellington Moving’s business case.

“Michael Wood has clearly lost control of the purse strings in his department but refuses to take responsibility.

“Inflation is caused by too much money chasing too few goods. When the Government throws around cash like this, it drives up the cost of everything.

“Waka Kotahi has become one of the worst offenders. It has increased its communications team from 32 staff to 88 – 65 of whom earn $100,000 or more. It’s also come under fire for spending $30,000 on five giant zeros that light up.

“This is why ACT would zero base the public service. The justifications for each department and ministry will have to fit with a robust view of what government can do:

  • Can the private sector provide this service?
  • Is there a genuine conflict between citizens’ interests that cannot be resolved without Government intervention?
  • What are the costs and benefits of this activity, and do the benefits outweigh the costs?

“Michael Wood needs to explain to taxpayers why he’s allowing such exorbitant spending with, in most cases, such little return on investment.”