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Minister’s secret letter stopped Wellington moving

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter must release the letter she sent to Transport Minister Phil Twyford before he pushed construction of Wellington’s second Mt Victoria Tunnel back a decade, National’s Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“Julie Anne Genter’s political legacy could well be as the Associate Transport Minister who stopped Wellington moving for a decade.

“She confirmed in Parliament today that the letter she sent Transport Minister Phil Twyford weeks before the Let’s Get Wellington Moving package was announced related to ‘concerns’ about the sequencing of projects, particularly the second Mt Victoria Tunnel.

“It took a Parliamentary question on notice today for Julie Anne Genter to finally acknowledge what everyone suspected – her concerns about the second Mt Victoria Tunnel saw it pushed off into the never-never of the Let’s Get Wellington Moving package.

“The tunnel may not even be allowed to take private cars if it is ever built.

“Julie Anne Genter now needs to release the full letter so Wellingtonians can see for themselves what she demanded of Twyford in exchange for her support of the package.

“This Government’s claim to be the most open and transparent ever is becoming more laughable by the day. She is deluded if she thinks there is no public interest in a letter between Ministers that discusses $6.4 billion in taxpayer spending and 20-plus years of Wellington transport projects.

Here is what we know:

• The Let’s Get Wellington Moving recommended programme of investment proposed a second Mt Victoria tunnel be built between 2024 and 2029.
• A second Mt Victoria Tunnel was the third most-popular project consulted on by the LWGM group.
• A draft Cabinet Paper on LGWM was circulated on March 25. Julie Anne Genter wrote to Phil Twyford two days later.
• Minister Twyford then requested an aide memoire on options for walking and cycling in the Mt Victoria Tunnel and on potential timing of the roading vs public transport projects.
• A further memo was requested on April 5 about “Potential downsides of removing or delaying the second Mt Victoria Tunnel”.
• When the final LGWM package was announced in May, completion of the second Mt Victoria Tunnel had been pushed back to between 2030 and 2034.

“Julie Anne Genter now needs to come clean and admit to Wellingtonians that a second Mt Victoria Tunnel has been delayed for at least 10 years because she demanded it.”

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