“Transport Minister Michael Wood has delivered the worst possible news this week to people affected by years of disruption from City Rail Link construction,” says ACT’s Transport spokesperson Simon Court.

“The Minister has acted more like the Christmas Grinch and rejected pleas from Heart of the City Auckland to reconsider compensation criteria, which means some of the worst affected people will miss out.

“This ignores the long-standing principle of compensating people in proportion to the loss they have suffered.

“This Government talks a lot about kindness but has treated these people terribly. Even Scrooge would be shocked at the timing and callousness of the Ministers response a few days before Christmas.

“ACT supports the call by Heart of the City for an urgent and independent review into the Ministers decision and the compensation criteria. This simply can’t wait until more people have lost their livelihoods.

“ACT is not holding out hope for a Christmas miracle, but the Minister responsible for this Government mega project should be held accountable for treating people so unfairly.

“In September the Minister announced a long-awaited compensation package, but the criteria excluded many of the people who suffered the most severe losses from the relentless dust, noise, safety and access issues.

“I wrote to the Minister at the time asking the following questions:

• Why are payments not backdated to the beginning of the project in October 2019, and only to February 2021?

• Why should a business affected by Covid-19 lockdowns payments miss out on compensation for hardship caused by City Rail Link construction?

• Why was City Rail Link given the job of working out who is eligible and making payments, rather than an independent entity?

• Is there an appeals process for those businesses whose claims are not accepted by City Rail Link?

“Heart of the City Auckland wrote to Minister Wood and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff in November, having waited months for any response to similar questions on the criteria, only to have the bad news delivered by Minister Wood days before Christmas.

“ACT is calling on the Government to practice what it preaches, be kind, especially this close to Christmas.”