History repeats – National screws Auckland rail for the third time
The Minister of Transport’s announcement yesterday which sought to demolish the business case for Auckland’s long planned Central City Link (aka CBD loop) is a major set back for Auckland.
While for diplomatic reasons the Mayor and government are trying to contain the political fall out -this is a major act of bad faith by the National-led government against Auckland,
This is especially unfair as Auckland was forced by the government to undergo the major costs and dislocation of creating the Super City – ostensibly so that ‘Auckland can speak with one voice’.
Well, Auckland has spoken with ‘one voice’.
Unlike the Holiday Highway, the City Rail Link has a sound business case compiled by reputable NZ and international experts. Moreover it has a powerful mandate reflected by the overwhelming majority of Aucklanders who voted for Len Brown who campaigned strongly on this very issue. In contrast the politician who has done most to block the project, Transport Minister Steven Joyce as a first term list MP who unlike the Mayor of Auckland has no personal political mandate from voters whatsoever. Steven Joyce who features prominently in Nicky Hager’s ‘the Hollow Men’ has never been elected by the public to anything. This is history repeating itself and the third time a National government has done this to Auckland since 1954.
The history of Auckland’s planned underground rail link goes back almost 90 years.
Such a scheme was first proposed by Minister of Railways (later Prime Minister) Gordon Coates as early as 1923. In the late 1940s the Ministry of Works refined the scheme which was accepted by all parties for nearly 10 years before being killed off by the National Government of the odious Syd Holland in 1954– with unfortunately the active compliance of the then Auckland City Council. Again in the late 1960s the ARA and the NZ Railways worked up another plan, again with an underground loop known as ‘Robbies Rapid Rail’. This in turn was killed off in 1975 by the newly elected National government of Robert Muldoon. (Sins of the Fathers – the fall and rise of rail transit in Auckland).
Now the National government of John Key and Steven Joyce have done it again. So much for all the brave talk about making Auckland ‘ a ‘World Class City’. In fact what Key and Joyce want is the removal (deregulation) of the former ARC’s Metropolitan Urban Limits to open up the opportunities for urban sprawl for vested interests. Aspirations for sprawling and coastal subdivisions I guess can be the only explanation for the otherwise irrational Puhoi to Wellsford highway.
Note that Sir Wellington Treasury has an uncanny resemblance to Steven Joyce. Note also the two casks of dynamite – ‘procrastination’ and ‘dissension’ are still being used to demolish Auckland’s aspirations
See my earlier post on this issue.