PQ4. Roading—Hamilton to Tauranga Route
[Sitting date: 24 July 2014. Volume:700;Page:4. Text is subject to correction.]
4. BRENDAN HORAN (Brendan Horan) to the Minister of Finance : Is he still of the view that a Hamilton to Tauranga route would have to be considered alongside three other projects?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): If the member is referring to some comments I made in the Waikato, I told the Waikato Times it was the Government’s approach to give long-term commitment to the regions so they have the security of knowing that there is an infrastructure plan in place and that there is long-term funding to match those plans, not just empty promises. I commented that we are doing a large building programme in Christchurch; Wellington will see Transmission Gully; in Auckland the largest project, the Waterview Connection, is well under way; and the Waikato Expressway is well under way. I also said that once we get through that programme, which is some years away, looking out to the mid-2020s is when you would get a debate about other large projects. I told the newspaper there is no detailed planning about that yet, but it is good that people are thinking ahead.
Brendan Horan : Why should anyone believe National Party talk of plans when 6 long years ago John Key promised to four-lane the Tauranga central link—3 short kilometres—and not one dollar has been spent to do that work?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : I cannot comment in detail on that particular short piece of road, but I must say as a regular and recent visitor to Tauranga that the scope of new road building in Tauranga is such that you start wondering whether it does not exceed the growth in traffic. Because of the lobbying of local members and because of some robust analysis, there has been extensive expenditure in Tauranga. I am sure that if there is anything else there that warrants serious consideration, it will get it through the New Zealand Transport Agency process.
Brendan Horan : Has his Government not taken the people of Tauranga for granted for long enough, and will he advise the Prime Minister to apologise to the people of Tauranga tomorrow for this Government’s failure to fulfil an election promise made 6 long years ago?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : My colleague advises me that we said we would do it after the four roads of national significance were completed—four of them—and we are on track for that. I have noticed in Tauranga, though, that when the current member was elected, energetic advocacy for Tauranga rose significantly. It had already been much improved after Bob was elected, after the previous member, and with Simon Bridges’ election it has improved even more, and that accounts for the very substantial investment that is going on in Tauranga now. But for years before that, the advocacy was pretty hopeless and not much money was spent there