Light rail debacle stains NZ’s business reputation

The Auditor-General has confirmed what the National Party has long believed – that the Government’s handling of Auckland’s light rail was ham-fisted, risky and probably in breach of procurement rules

“Light rail has become a calamity on the scale of KiwiBuild,” National’s Transport spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“The Auditor-General’s damning assessment of the ‘twin track’ process overseen by former Transport Minister Phil Twyford suggests it has tarnished New Zealand’s reputation as a market for international investment.

“Auditor-General John Ryan could not have been clearer that, had the Government not halted the process in June, it was headed towards an inquiry under the Public Audit Act.

“Mr Ryan’s letter implies this process was neither transparent nor fair, as required by the strict procurement rules designed to maintain market confidence in this country.

“Labour’s botched handling of its flagship 2017 election promise has become an international embarrassment and it brings into question the Prime Minister’s decision to leave Ministerial portfolios in hands of Phil Twyford – particularly one directly tied to overseas investment.

“Labour promised to have light rail built between Auckland’s CBD and Mt Roskill by 2021 but the Government still hasn’t worked out the most basic details of the project, at a cost of untold millions to the taxpayer.

“Mr Ryan made it clear that the simultaneous consideration of an unsolicited proposal and a competitive procurement process risked creating unfair playing field, with the effect of reducing the Government’s negotiating ability.

“New Zealand desperately needs real solutions to our transport woes and Aucklanders can’t afford further wasted time.

“The Government needs to dump the light rail project and focus on improving Auckland’s existing public transport network.”