Monday marked another deadline for the Government’s troubled Auckland light rail project. It was the last Cabinet meeting before the pre-election period kicks in on June 19.
That deadline has been kicked around – mainly by the Opposition – as the last possible day Cabinet would sign off on light rail, given the convention for governments to restrain their decision-making in the three months leading up to an election.
But light rail is the policy equivalent of Monty Python’s black knight: After each bout of terrible news, it rises to its feet, crying “I’m not dead yet”.
And technically they’re right: Light rail, unlike the capital gains tax, or the “feebate” electric car scheme, hasn’t been killed. Those projects were consulted on, axed by NZ First, and Labour and the Greens moved on. This is different: to this day, the Government continues to receive briefings on the project and Cabinet papers are still being prepared. Officially, the project is “on hold,” or “stalled”, but not “dead”.
To be killed off, you have to have been born in the first place, and hence light rail is more akin to still born. They promised light rail would be complete to Mt Roskill within four years and after three years they have yet to even decide how to proceed, if at all.
It is arguably a higher degree of incompetence that Kiwibuild.