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PQ 10. Public Transport, Auckland—Funding and Priority

10. Public Transport, Auckland—Funding and Priority

[Sitting date: 24 July 2014. Volume:700;Page:10. Text is subject to correction.]

10. JULIE ANNE GENTER (Green) to the Minister of Transport : Will he increase investment in better public transport infrastructure in light of the poll this week showing Aucklanders favour public transport spending by a four-to-one margin over roads?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Minister of Transport): Mr Sp eaker—

Hon Member : Roadrunner!

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE : I will try to run through this question if I can. The answer to the question about whether we will invest more is yes, because that has been our record over the last 6 years—to continue investing in public transport—but in reaction to the poll, the answer would be no, because our record speaks for itself.

Julie Anne Genter : What specific new public transport infrastructure projects has his Government committed to funding over the next 3 years, excluding rail electrification and the Developing Auckland’s Rail Transport projects, which were committed by the last Labour Government?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE : The member would need to look at the draft Government policy statement on transport to see that there are numerous intentions for spending there that relate to public transport. But I would also say that we are about to enter a period where parties are going to compete for votes from electors, and the member should stand by to receive some of the policy information from the National Party that I am sure she will be willing to support.

Julie Anne Genter : Does he consider his budget for new infrastructure in the Government policy statement, which he just referenced, shown in this graph I am holding, to be the balanced spend and better public transport infrastructure that most Kiwis have said that they want?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE : I think the member needs to recognise that about 3 percent of all kilometres travelled are undertaken on public transport by New Zealanders. The member might also like to reflect that buses, and often bikes, need roads to run on.

Julie Anne Genter : Does the Minister acknowledge that people cannot take public transport that does not exist or is not reliable, and that is why they would like his Government to invest in better public transport, so they will not be forced to clog up the roads with their cars?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE : The problem we have is that the public transport services that are available now are very expensive. The subsidy rate on those trips is enormous. If someone is taking a train trip from Papakura into Britomart, the subsidy is in excess of $24 each way. Along the way there will be other stations where there are similar sorts of subsidies but at lesser levels. It is also worth noting that if you were to take a bus trip on motorways, a bus trip on roads, the subsidy gets down to about $2.22 on average across the country. So to simply say to stop building the infrastructure and put it all into public transport denies the fact that public transport needs roading infrastructure to operate.

Julie Anne Genter : I seek leave to table research showing the average public transport subsidy across the country—

Mr SPEAKER : The source of the research?

Julie Anne Genter : It is a research report completed for the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Mr SPEAKER : I will put the leave, on the basis that it might be difficult for members to obtain. They can make their choice. Leave is sought to table that particular research document. Is there any objection? It can be tabled.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Julie Anne Genter : Will he commit to start the City Rail Link on time next year if rail patronage growth, released tomorrow, shows 13 percent growth on last year and thus on a path to achieve the patronage target set by his Government; if not, why not?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE : Because the question is self-evident. If it is on a path, then it will reach a point where we would have that agreement. But “on a path” is not reaching the point.

Julie Anne Genter : Given the Minister’s distaste for queuing, which was demonstrated today, why is his Government pursuing an unbalanced transport policy that will lead to more New Zealanders being stuck in traffic queues?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE : I do not think we are doing that. We are spending an enormous amount on infrastructure throughout the country, including in the regions, and in the particular case of Auckland, which was the basis of the question today, the Government is spending on average about $190 million on public transport.

Denis O'Rourke : Why does the Government have no plans for further rail electrification, such as Papakura to Pukekohe, in its land transport plans?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE : I think it would be helpful to the member if I were to give him some information about the level of subsidy that is required over and above any infrastructure costs that might be required in those services. As I said before, if someone is travelling from Papakura into the city of Auckland, the subsidy each way is about $24.90, which is $50 per trip. It does not matter whether or not the subsidy is less because the distance is less, the cost of providing the service remains the same. So what has to happen for public transport to get bigger and better investment is usage, and that is not something that we are seeing at the moment.

Denis O'Rourke : Does the Minister agree that bigger penalties are needed to ensure public compliance with airport security requirements?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE : I can only say that I do respect the laws. When they are broken by people, then they should be very sorry for doing so.

Phil Twyford : Why does the Prime Minister’s leaked announcement of an accelerated time frame for Auckland’s second harbour crossing not include rail and road as recommended by the Auckland Plan?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE : I would not speculate on the contents of a leaked document.

Hon Clayton Cosgrove : Can he confirm that the Government’s walking and cycling policy has now been extended to include the Minister of Transport himself undertaking a pilot project into running, which he launched at Christchurch airport today?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE : I would recommend to anybody the opportunities to either run, cycle, or walk for its health benefits but, frankly, not for its political benefits.

Hon Clayton Cosgrove : I seek leave, for the edification of the House, to table two documents. One is entitled “How to Go Through Airport Security Smoothly”, by a publicat ion called wikiHow.

Mr SPEAKER : And the second document?

Hon Clayton Cosgrove : And the second document is entitled “Idiot’s guide to The Airport”, by a publication of Victoria University. I think it is called Salient.

Mr SPEAKER : The documents have been described—it is Thursday. I will put the leave to table those two documents. It is over for the House to decide. Leave is sought. Is there any objection? They will be tabled.
Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

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