Guest Post – Promises, Promises

The 2020 General Election is just 11 days away, and all around New Zealand, political parties are promising much. Whether what is promised will ever be delivered is a moot point; I suspect we will all be sceptical if a party promises a Year of Delivery again!

Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson rolled into Christchurch yesterday, promising the residents of Christchurch a new covered stadium. That’s great, and few would begrudge Cantabrians a level of comfort in which to watch sport, especially if they have sat outside at Addington Stadium on a cold winter night.

But wait; haven’t we been here before? Stuff reported on March 20th that “Cabinet has signed off in its promised $220 million share of the $473m stadium cost after considering the city council’s business case for the project.”

So was yesterday’s announcement by the PM and Finance Minister a new one? Or was it an announcement and  promise by the Leader of the Labour Party, and her de facto deputy? Was the Labour Party double-announcing a government-approved project, and claiming it as its own?

A similar, albeit less expensive promise was made to Whanganui voters last month. Labour’s Lower North Island Infrastructure announcement included an allocation of $11.6 million for Whanganui’s iconic Sarjeant Gallery. Was this the same money previously announced by Shane Jones on a visit to Whanganui on 2 July? On that occasion, the money was coming from the New Zealand First Electoral Survival Fund, otherwise known as the Provincial Growth Fund!

As an aside, funding for the Sarjeant Gallery was first promised by Christopher Finlayson in November 2016, but since then the cost of the project has risen significantly, a problem not confined to this project but to projects in general. Does anyone seriously believe the final cost of the Christchurch Stadium will not be significantly more than the current $473 million?

Lastly, Labour’s contribution to the Sarjeant Gallery, welcome as it is, is scheduled for the next year to 18 months. Did no one tell the Prime Minister that in fact work started on the Sarjeant Gallery redevelopment several months ago, and was well underway when the Labour Party so generously handed out taxpayers’ money?

Promises; regardless of who makes them, they ought be treated with a healthy serving of salt.

Footnote: This is a brief return to blogging whilst DPF is incapacitated. I have no desire to resurrect my former blogging life!

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