Industry rumours that Transmission Gully will be delayed by two years due to Covid-19 are extremely concerning and the Government must clarify this urgently, National’s Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Some delays due to Covid-19 and the five-week lockdown are understandable.
“However, a two year extension to the timeline would be excessive and is extremely concerning at a time when we need to invest and build in vital pieces of infrastructure to get the economy going again.
“The Government has said shovel ready projects are at the top of its agenda.
“It doesn’t match up that we’re now hearing the budget has been cut and timeline pushed out for one of the biggest road infrastructure projects currently underway in New Zealand.
“It’s another case of the rhetoric not matching what’s happening on the ground.
“The Government needs to urgently clarify what the story is.”
New Zealand’s truck drivers are working round the clock to keep our shelves stocked with essential goods and they deserve support, National’s Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Truck drivers are working long hours to ensure essential items are available at a time when we need them most. At the very least they should be able to buy a coffee and some food to keep them going on the road.
“The Department of Internal Affairs has told councils to keep public toilets open for truck drivers. Councils need to be adhering to this and ensuring facilities are in a good state for truck drivers to use.
“At times like this our truck drivers play a vital role in ensuring the supply and delivery of items essential to maintaining our wellbeing and society.
"Many of these drivers are working through the night and don’t even get the opportunity to go home every night.
“The Government should show some flexibility and fairness to allow them the support they deserve.”
The chances of this Government making any progress on Auckland’s light rail look slim after the Deputy Prime Minister failed to commit to delivering the project, National’s Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Light rail was Labour’s flagship election promise but it hit the skids as soon as they got into Government and now it looks like it’ll be derailed completely because the Coalition can’t get on the same page.
“In Parliament this week, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters was asked, point-blank, whether the Government would deliver on its light rail commitment. His response, on behalf of the prime minister, was to simply say it is was a ‘work in progress’.
“After almost an entire term of Government it should be more than a work in progress. It’s staggering that there’s still no route, no delivery model, no design work done, no costings, no consents, no designations, no business case – nothing.
“You don’t have to be expert at reading between the lines to know light rail will be shelved if Cabinet ever sits down to make a decision on it, especially with Associate Transport Minister Shane Jones publicly talking it down.
“The Government was supposed to have at least selected a delivery partner for the project by now, but it confirmed that decision is still ‘months’ away.
“The Deputy Prime Minister wouldn’t be drawn on a timeline for delivery when asked, probably because he knows this latest Phil Twyford shambles isn’t going to fly.
“Light Rail has become KiwiBuild 2.0.”
Revelations that Provincial Growth Fund officials have been filling out forms for businesses shows everything that’s wrong with Shane Jones’ slush fund, National’s Regional Development spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“A businessman in Southland has come forward and said that he was contacted by the PGF offering a cash injection as they’d overspent in Northland and needed to ‘even up the balance’.
“The man was visited by two officials who told him that the $480,000 he needed for new equipment wasn’t enough and he should ask for more.
“He was then told that nobody in Northland was worried about taking PGF money, he shouldn’t worry about paying it back and that they might not even be back to check up on how it had been spent.
“The officials then offered to fill in the application form for him.
“This sort of behaviour from Government officials is wrong and highlights everything that is wrong with the PGF. It’s clear they’re under huge pressure from Minister Shane Jones to spend up large.
“Most New Zealanders would be staggered to discover PGF officials are filling out forms and telling people to apply for more money.
“The admission from officials that Northland has been prioritised is as we’ve long suspected and has now been proven.
“This begs the question of how many other grants have been given, not on the basis of a clear business case, but on the back of officials desperately trying to shovel money out the door.
“Jacinda Ardern has some serious questions to ask of Shane Jones, but if recent history is anything to go by, she’ll be too scared because he belongs to NZ First.”
MP for Hutt South Chris Bishop says it’s fantastic news that 2019 was a record year for live organ donations in New Zealand.
“The Compensation for Live Organ Donors Act, which began life as a Member’s Bill in my name, came into effect in December 2017 and it is great to see that it is making a difference.
“Provisional data for 2019 shows 88 live kidney donor transplants (and one live liver transplant) occurred in 2019, up from 84 in 2018, which was the previous record year. In 2017 there were just 69 transplants.
“Before the Act, live organ donors received the equivalent of the sickness benefit while they recuperated from the operation (which could be for many weeks). The Act ensures that live organ donors receive compensation of 100 per cent of their earnings for up to 12 weeks after the operation.
“Live organ donors are heroes, and so the Act will more fairly compensates those altruistic New Zealanders who, through the goodness of their hearts, choose to donate an organ to a friend, loved one, or even a stranger, and it reduces the financial barriers to becoming a live organ donor.
“Live organ donors save lives, save taxpayers money, and contribute to a better and healthier New Zealand.
“As awareness of the Act grows, I’m confident we will see even more and more New Zealanders choose to donate organs.”
The Transport Minister’s claim that light rail from Auckland’s CBD to the airport will 'absolutely' be finished by 2030 cannot be trusted, National’s Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Phil Twyford’s political legacy is one of broken promises, so why should we expect this one to be any different.
“Auckland’s light rail has been a fail from the beginning. Labour promised during the election campaign to have it finished between the CBD and Mt Roskill by 2021, only to quickly abandon that target when it became clear Phil Twyford could not deliver on it.
“Speaking of abandoned targets, remember Labour’s promise to build 100,000 KiwiBuild houses in ten years? Yeah, that was Phil Twyford as well, and that target didn’t last very long either, nor did he in the Housing portfolio.
“The reality is, Phil Twyford’s incompetent oversight is the reason this project is a least a decade away.
“His bizarre decision to entertain a bidding war between his own Transport Agency and NZ Infra has set the project back years, and set progress on Auckland’s transport woes back even further because critical roading projects have been put on ice in the interim.
“After more than two years in Government, there is no exact route, no delivery model, no design work done, no costings, no consents, no designations, no business case – nothing.
“Light rail has become KiwiBuild 2.0 – just another of Labour’s broken promises.”
Revelations that Shane Jones met with representatives from a NZ First-linked forestry company, after point blank denying it the day before, should throw his future as a Minister into question, National’s Regional Development spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“As each day goes by the NZ Future Forrest Products Limited affair gets murkier and murkier, and Shane Jones keeps digging a bigger hole for himself.
“Just yesterday the Regional Economic Development Minister claimed he had no idea about NZFPP’s bid for $15 million of PGF funding until October 2019, when he declared a conflict of interest.
“This is despite the company, which has deep ties to NZ First, saying it had given the minister a presentation about its project months before the conflict was declared.
“But today, Shane Jones’s memory has suddenly returned and he now admits he did in fact meet with David Henry, the NZFFP director who signed the application form.
“This is a significant admission. First, it contradicts the minister’s earlier statements. Second, it makes it even more unlikely the minister had ‘no idea’ about the company until October when he formally recused himself. Third, the meeting does not appear in his Ministerial diary records – why?
“The Prime Minister should be investigating her wayward Regional Development Minister, who has clearly broken the rules by not declaring a conflict of interest immediately.
“Former Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran lost her ministerial role over less.”
Shane Jones has serious questions to answer after newly-released documents suggest he misled Parliament over his knowledge of a suspect Provincial Growth Fund application, National’s Regional Development spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“It’s become clear the Auditor-General needs to investigate Shane Jones’s involvement in the bid by NZ Future Forrest Products Limited for $15 million of PGF funding.
“The company has deep ties to NZ First, and today’s media reports show the Regional Economic Development Minister knew about its funding bid months before he declared a conflict of interest.
“Not declaring a conflict of interest immediately is a clear breach of the rules governing ministers.
“If Shane Jones received a presentation from the company about its project in April 2019 then it’s hard to square that with his claim in Parliament that he had ‘no idea’ about the company’s existence until October 14.
“Shane Jones’s statements are even more dubious given his officials were aware of the conflict of interest in June, and the independent advisory panel wrote to the Minister about the project in July to support the funding bid.
“The Minister obviously knew these documents would expose his lies because he cynically released them on December 23, hoping no one would notice over the Christmas break.
“The process surrounding the Future Forest Products application doesn’t pass the sniff test. The look of it is wrong and that’s why it’s right for the Auditor-General to investigate.
“While no money changed hands, the process is even more important than the substantive outcome because of the close links between those involved and the historical murkiness of Shane Jones’ $3 billion slush fund.”
More than a year after Racing Minister Winston Peters said he’d take action about Police opposing liquor licences for the traditional BYO at the races, he’s done nothing, MP for Hutt South Chris Bishop says.
“Winston Peters has talked a big game on this issue, going as far as calling the people who have tried to stop BYOs ‘bureaucratic shiny bums’.
“Race meetings are important community events held around the country and usually run by volunteer committees. Clubs obtain a special licence (or hold an on-licence) for a designated area and allow the rest of the course to be available for bring-your-own alcohol consumption.
“In recent years Police have been opposing liquor licenses. Many regional racing clubs lack the infrastructure to offer hospitality services and for many years patrons have been bringing their own food and drink to the course on race days, but this summer tradition is under threat.
“Some race meets have allowed BYO for more than 135 years. While we understand Police want to address the harm caused by alcohol, they should concentrate on areas where there is actually a problem and not family-friendly events like race meets.
“Mr Peters has even introduced a new Racing Bill to Parliament, but says BYO areas were not included because they are not supported by government partners, which can only mean the Greens.
“Yet again the National Party stands ready to offer our support for our hard-working racing clubs and come to the Government’s aid. It should adopt my Members’ Bill forthwith. My Bill will make it clear that racing clubs and racing meetings are not the intended target of section 235 of the Sale and Supply of Liquor Act.
“The Bill provides an exemption from section 235 for racing clubs on the days of race meetings when the club holds an on-site special licence that applies to the race meeting.
“This is just a common sense change to the law that will allow the status quo to remain at community run race meets. It will mean the age-old Kiwi tradition of a glass of wine or beer in the sun with some chips and dips can continue.”
Revelations this week Cabinet will decide on a ‘delivery partner’ not a ‘specific solution’ in the near year for the Government’s troubled Auckland light rail project shows staggering Government incompetence, National’s Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Transport Minister Phil Twyford has another KiwiBuild on his hands. This was a flagship promise from the Labour Government, the Prime Minister said light rail would be built to Mt Roskill by 2021.
“Now we find at the end of 2019, Cabinet won’t even decide on a particularly proposal until early 2020. Instead, Cabinet will pick a ‘partner’, between NZTA and NZ Infra bid by NZ Super Fund, with the details to be sorted out later.
“Matt Lowrie from Greater Auckland is completely right when he says, ‘you don’t go to Fletchers’ and say ‘we want you to build us a road’ and Fletchers go ‘okay where do you want us to build it?’ and [then] go ‘I don’t know we’ll work that out later’.’
“In Parliament today the only thing Phil Twyford was able to say about light rail was that it would be rail on two tracks and it would be in Auckland.
“This is a staggering display of ineptitude by the Government. Two years into its time in Government, there is no exact route, no delivery model, no design work done, no costings, no consents, no designations, no business case – nothing.
“Light rail is a metaphor for this Government – it’s going nowhere.”