Shearer on the provinces

August 9th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

started off his heartland tour of the provinces with this speech:

Another example is the priority that Government gives to .

Over the next ten years it’s planning to spend over $12 billion on building new motorways.

The money for those new motorways comes from the same budget as all other new roads and upgrades are paid for. There isn’t some magical new pot of gold at the bottom of the garden that pays for motorways.

Almost no regional roads will be built or upgraded in the next ten years because the money is going into new motorways like the one from Puhoi to Wellsford.

It’s a nice to have, but when you spend on new regional roads, you get back more economic benefit than the cost of building them.

I can’t think of a worse example for David Shearer to use, in trying to make his case that National is spending too much in the cities at the expense of the provinces.

  1. The Puhoi to Wellsford road is in the provinces, and its main rationale is to support economic development in Northland. I can’t wait for him to head up north and condemn the road improvement as being anti-provinces. They’re keen as hell for it up in Northland.
  2. Labour proposes taking the money from a road to improve links to Northland and spend it on the Auckland CBD rail loop. That seems to me a great case of taking money from the provinces to spend in the cities.
  3. In the Mt Albert by-election David Shearer demanded the Goverment spend an extra $1 billion on changing the Waterview motorway, to help him win the seat. That would be $1 billion less for all other roading projects in NZ, if the Government had done what Shearer called for.

So really complaining about the spend on regional roads, when you want to spend around $3b more in Auckland on transport is ludicrous. Does no one in Labour bother to even think about whether what they say is defensible?

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27 Responses to “Shearer on the provinces”

  1. Raphael (88 comments) says:

    And, if I recall correctly, in the run up to the elections Labour spent the “Holiday Highway” money several times over with all their promises of what they would use the money for instead.

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  2. Mighty_Kites (84 comments) says:

    Sort of like National spending the asset sale proceeds several times over, right Raphael?

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  3. nasska (11,575 comments) says:

    …”Does no one in Labour bother to even think about whether what they say is defensible?”….

    Not a chance….they just open their mouths & let the North Wester blow their tongues about.

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  4. mavxp (483 comments) says:

    The government is willing to spend all those billions on road building (bridges, walls, pavements, etc etc) and damn near *zero* on research into better methods to design infrastructure and save money through innovation, technology, improved understanding of material use, reliability etc.

    Our leaders are idiots.

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  5. b1gdaddynz (279 comments) says:

    So the leaders are idiots for spending money on real world things that are actually needed rather than spending it on theoretical research…You do realise that money is tight right now aye? That the roading projects actually keep working class New Zealanders in jobs right now? Instead you would have them spend that money on a few academics who might come up with something useful and they are the idiots?!?

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  6. wreck1080 (3,922 comments) says:

    the govt is in process of upgrading sh2 between Mt Maunganui and the whakatane/rotorua intersection — costing 400 million or so.

    David shearer needs to get his facts right.

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  7. peterwn (3,274 comments) says:

    But will he use the same speech each time or will he leave chunks out here and there to suit the local political climate? For example he can bang away about the ‘Holiday Highway’ in Nelson, but omit it in Northland.

    But hey! if he wants to help the heartland, then why not promise Nelson a railway or two?

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  8. lastmanstanding (1,297 comments) says:

    Shearer the gift that just keeps on giving…………………To the Nats

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  9. mavxp (483 comments) says:

    @ B1gdaddynz

    You, dear fellow, are the idiot for not understanding what I am talking about. Design of infrastructure is based on *theory*, some of it empirical, some analytical. Some of which is old and inappropriate. There is no incentive to innovate as including research in your contract bid will ensure you lose to someone who wont bother. So nobody does any. Designs are over conservative in some cases, or fail in others. Costing you the taxpayer both times. Research is a long term investment that pays off in the long term -i.e. your lifetime.

    But our leaders just like quoting big numbers and claiming they will spend more on roads. Why not be smarter about that?

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  10. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    …when you spend on new regional roads, you get back more economic benefit than the cost of building them.

    This statement also needs to be challenged. It seems an absurd claim. The more new regional roads we build the greater the economic benefits? Or what?

    Labour’s speech writer training and it’s policy research training seems to be as good as it’s leadership media training.

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  11. Monty (978 comments) says:

    And isn’t Transmission Highway the gateway for expansion of the provinces closer to wellington (Kapiti, Horowhenua and Manawatu) – Not as larage an impact as the Puhoi to Wellsford Road but still very significant.

    This is another example of Labour saying things to different audiences. They would never dream of stopping the roads and Labour expect construction to have started by the time they are in Government so the hard decisions are then made.

    This is just more noise from an irrelevant Labour Party

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  12. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    Aren’t the government building expressway in the Waikato (including the badly needed Hamilton bypass), Tauranga, Christchurch, and from Levin in to Wellington. All those are regional. Much more regional than the Auckland Central Rail Tunnel, the main purpose of which was to allow Jacinda Ardern to win the seat. Which was a complete rail fail!

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  13. b1gdaddynz (279 comments) says:

    So we should spend the money on researching how to build roads instead of building them? or spend money researching how to build roads and then building them? or research if we even need roads, then research how to build them better and then build them? Or just spend money on research and never actually do anything but research? I always hear people telling us we need to spend more on research and innovation but they can never actually pin point what we should be researching and whether the research will have any value in the real world!

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  14. rightmakesright (12 comments) says:

    Northland has one of the worst access roads in the country, growing up I remember the arduous trips to Auckland through the winding roads being held up by morons in campervans and the trucks that were too slow to get over the hills. My parents and grandparents did a lot of business in Auckland, not to mention my other grandparents living there, the road is getting busier and busier everytime I go ‘home.’ There is no rail link and any investment in developing one would be incredibly expensive due to the terrain. So the cheapest and easiest way is to hire a car in Auckland and drive.
    The roads out of Wellington are congested and bad, fixing that will speed up commerce from the provinces. So Mr. Shearer I am sorry to say that you are wrong that government isn’t investing in country roads, I am just hopefull that people are able to see right through him.
    To those who say that we need to invest in more public transport…. explain to me how people who live in the country, 20-30ks down a gravel road are suppossed to hop on light rail or the nearest bus?

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  15. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    Yep, Labour are truly moronic. You wish for them to spend a few hours grinding up hills at 30 km/h behind a logging truck on a goat track labelled SH1. Just because they only ever visit the provinces on holiday and spent billions on an obsolete railway.

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  16. mavxp (483 comments) says:

    No. You present a false dichotomy. It is not an either/or.

    Over a decade we are spending 10’s of Billion’s on road building currently (not to mention maintenance), and over that time probably 1 million or so on research, if that, which is less than 0.01% of the infrastructure spend. A pittance.

    If you doubled it to 2 million over the same period it would still be a pittance, but more than likely save you 10’s more millions in better methods, understanding of materials, processes, code updates, reliability of designs etc. It builds over time, like a snow-ball. I am guessing at numbers here as I don’t have figures. But I do know the universities do very little in this space, and there is no one else (the Ministry of Works used to via the Road Research Unit, but it ceased to exist in the late 80’s or early 90’s I believe).

    Decades of underinvestment means we are potentially spending 100’s of millions more than we could have been had we made that continual research investment. It is about understanding what research can do, how it works, and investing up front. Terribly short sighted not to.

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  17. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    Alan W> Just because they only ever visit the provinces on holiday

    You’ve pretty much summarised the problem here. If you’re a Labour MP, a new expressway is a “holiday” highway because that’s the only reason you can think of to visit the provinces. For people living in the provinces it is the congested route in to the nearest large city. If you’re in Northland it is your main connection to the rest of the country.

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  18. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    maxvp, last time I tried to investigate it seems NZ spends about 3x as much per km to build a road as the US – yet they are forever ripped up for repairs.

    I cannot believe we are efficient. The norm at our roadworks is people and machines standing around idle. Go overseas and drive around for three weeks and you will encounter more stoppages and roadworks on your drive home from the airport than you saw in your entire time away.

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  19. tempest (30 comments) says:

    Reading between the lines here – I think Shearer is actually speaking more to a faction of his own supporters and his probable coalition partner. Labour historically has recognised that roading projects are always fairly popular among the wider NZ population and I doubt that Shearer would personally feel much different. If you look at the development of the Auckland and Wellington motorway systems since the 1950’s there has been a reasonably steady rate of advance over successive Labour and National regimes.

    In fact, the spurt of Auckland motorway extensions in recent years (Upper Harbour Motorway, Alpurt, Southwestern to Southern connection, Spaghetti Junction improvements, Newmarket Viaduct replacement and widening, Manukau Harbour motorway bridge twinning, Mt Roskill extension) were all planned and had substantial construction under the fifth Labour government.

    Given that Labour presided over construction of 27km of new Northern motorway from Silverdale onwards in the 2000’s, including a set of expensive tunnels of dubious necessity, and also pushed for some very very expensive bored tunnels under Helen Clark’s electorate for the Waterview project, it’s definitely a bit of the hypocritical side to oppose pushing the Northern motorway further north from where they have left it at Puhoi.

    However, for some reason, the green leaning Transport Blog website has really gone to town opposing the Puhoi-Wellsford project. There are literally dozens of angry posts on this blog over the last few years about it. This site is very popular among the younger educated green leaning urban bicycle types (and I think the sixth most popular blog in NZ? DPF – you may be able to correct me here) and appears to have quite a bit of influence on Labour. One of the most telling things was when the previous blog editor called for Labour to take a stand on Puhoi-Wellsford and the very next day we had Labour come out and state that they would cancel Puhoi-Wellsford.

    http://transportblog.co.nz/2011/08/03/labour-finally-ask-some-tough-transport-questions/

    As well, the Green party has an articulate and knowledgeable transport spokesperson, who will no doubt be aiming for the Minister of Transport position as part of of any Green/Labour coalition. She has spoken out many times inside and outside parliament against Puhoi-Wellsford and, like the rest of her party, hates any sort of personal automobile orientated living.

    Shearer will need to tread carefully here. It is one thing to placate the Greens, but another thing to start getting to far offside of your main centre constituency that will need to be won back from National. I bet they would be quite happy whizzing past Warkworth at 109km/h on a spanking new 4 lane motorway.

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  20. cubit (356 comments) says:

    Where’s Bob Semple when you need him to convince his Labours heirs that roads and other public works are needed to let a country grow.

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  21. tempest (30 comments) says:

    @Alan Wilkinson at 2:04: “maxvp, last time I tried to investigate it seems NZ spends about 3x as much per km to build a road as the US”

    The US is blessed with great geology for the most part. Nice old stable continental craton usually well away from plate boundaries. When you drive through all the big 80-85 degree steep cuttings that have been blasted out to push a 70mph design speed interstate through the mountains you’ll notice it’s mostly granite. Great stuff to work with, and it doesn’t usually slide anywhere you don’t want it to.

    NZ is a different story. Young, steep, volcanic and eroding. Loose sediment everywhere. Nasty to work with. Think of the recent Manawatu gorge slip. Geology. Think of the massive amount of cost over run in the ’80’s when we built the Clyde dam. Geology.

    Up in Northland, where the Puhoi-Warkworth motorway is planned, 8 degree slopes have been known to fail. The amount of extra foundation work, cuts and fills, compacting, draining, reinforcing that is necessary to build a 100km/h standard motorway through here is astronomical. That is the main reason why, after two years of investigation, a route from Warkworth-Wellsford hasn’t been announced yet.

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  22. Griff (7,791 comments) says:

    tempest
    You are not wrong about the Auckland Transport blog. It has a bloody choo choo train as its heading
    A quick perusal of its posts and its apparent it should be called lefty train set blog

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  23. UpandComer (537 comments) says:

    Great posts by Tempest.

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  24. Ross Miller (1,704 comments) says:

    Labour labelling the Puhoi to Wellsford SH1 upgrade as the ‘Holiday Highway lost Kelvin Davis the chance to take Te Tai Tolerau off Hone H. Kelvin was one of the good guys. He has now walked away from Labour.

    Hone H is probably the most devisive figure in NZL politics. He champions handouts over handups. He preaches and encourages a cargo cult mentality among his constituents and they say ‘yes please’.

    Labour got us John Harawira and Shearer is just too dumb to realise that an upgraded SH1 is the key to Northland unlocking its potential.

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  25. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    “an upgraded SH1 is the key to Northland unlocking its potential”

    Yep, and a lot cheaper than paying Hone’s constituency’s welfare bill. Not that they want to work.

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  26. mick buckley (9 comments) says:

    “an upgraded SH1 is the key to Northland unlocking its potential”

    Nope, priority #1 is building a railway to Northland’s port.

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  27. Johnboy (16,651 comments) says:

    A theme song for Shearer in the rural heartland.

    Seems appropriate somehow a man in the wilderness begging for all the help he can get even if it will never happen.

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