Government slams National for trying to garner support for 'non-existent' roading projects it campaigned on before the election

The National Party has kicked off 2018 with a campaign to get people to sign petitions calling for the new Government to commit to a swathe of roading projects.

Its Transport Spokesperson Judith Collins says: “The National Government committed to a large number of important regional highway projects right around New Zealand as the next stage in the successful Roads of National Significance programme to build a modern highway network…

“But Transport Minister Phil Twyford now says a number of these projects are under review. That’s not good enough – our regional communities deserve them and the National Party is committed to fighting for them.

“To ensure the voice of each region is heard the National Party is launching a series of petitions so the public can show the Government how important the projects are.”

However Twyford says seven of the nine projects National’s trying to muster support around simply do not exist, as they were un-costed and unfunded election promises.

“To suggest the Government isn’t going ahead with projects that don’t exist is misleading,” he says.

These projects include:

  • The extension of the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to the foot of the Kaimai Range, and from Cambridge to Tirau
  • The continuous four lane extension of the Northern Motorway from Warkworth to Whangarei
  • The Tauranga to Katikati Road project as a continuous four lane State Highway with wide lanes and safety measures
  • The four laning of the Napier to Hastings Expressway
  • The Otaki to north of Levin expressway road project
  • The Christchurch Northern Motorway between Belfast and Pegasus
  • The construction of the four-lane State Highway 1 link between Christchurch and Ashburton

Twyford concedes the Government has scrapped a legitimate project that National is campaigning for – the East West Link Road project between the Onehunga-Penrose industrial area and State Highways 1 and 20.

Yet he says this was the only existing roading project the Labour-Government has altered, noting “officials are working to identify a lower-cost, better-value option”.

Further to National calling for the construction of the Redoubt-Mill Road corridor from Manukau and Flat Bush to Papakura and Drury, Twyford says: “The Mill Road Corridor upgrade is an Auckland Transport project and planning is continuing.”

Finally, in response to Collins’ criticism that the Government is attempting to “divert billions of dollars to pet light rail projects”, Twyford says: “The Transport Agency has advised that funding for road upgrades cannot be redirected into rail, so National’s concerns are unfounded.”

Collins says the National MPs responsible for the regions in which the roading projects in contention lie, will present their petitions to the Government later this year.

The MPs have already started firing through a string of press releases, putting forward their (un-costed) arguments in favour of the roads.

The issue was debated in the Parliament last month, as per the video above.