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  • rmacculloch

No question: Both National and Labour have failed the country on infrastructure

A strange trend is developing when it comes to both of our major parties "selling" their economic policies to the public. Namely that they have begun to play us for fools. Neither Labour nor National have delivered investments in infrastructure that have remotely kept in step with the massive increase in the population of New Zealand, which has leapt by around 1 million people these past two decades, from 4 million to 5 million. The latest announcements of both of our major parties are empty since they are in breach of a general legal principle, namely that in democracies such as ours, no parliament may be bound by a predecessor, nor bind a successor.

Take for example, National's recent infrastructure plans that include a second harbor crossing for Auckland beginning in 2028, a new rail line from Avondale to Southdown commencing in the 2030s and a proposed Kaimai tunnel, happening sometime next decade. Since there is no certainty as to which political party will be in office at these times, it is simply not possible for the next government, which may only have a three year term of office, to commit the country to these far-in-the-future projects. The only thing our next government can do is to start projects immediately upon election and hope to get them underway to such an extent that they will not be cancelled by future governments.

Both Labour and National are toying with the public over this issue, which is fast becoming a national crisis, with congestion ranking as one of Aucklanders' biggest bugbears. Labour cancelled a bunch of National's infrastructure projects when they got elected. National will likely cancel a bunch of Labour's favourite infrastructure projects should they gain power.

What's at the heart of this infrastructure dysfunction? The answer seems to lie in the sheer length of time that it is taking for our governments, whether National or Labour, to execute projects quickly. The lengthy planning process and extraordinarily drawn-out construction times have meant that infrastructure projects run across many parliaments, whereupon they can easily be shelved should they not accord with the ideology of the newly elected politicians.


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