The Government’s ineptitude when it comes to transport has been on full display this week with its Ministers unable to agree on whether Auckland’s light rail will cost $4 billion or $7 billion, National’s transport spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones told a recent Parliamentary Select Committee that he’d seen estimates for the proposed City Centre to Māngere line that costed it at $7.6 billion.
“But today Transport Minister Phil Twyford said he disagreed, and thought it was more like $4 billion, although he couldn’t really say how much until the business case was done.
“So who is right and who is wrong? It’s become a $3.6 billion dollar question, and one the Government should have answered long before now.
“Phil Twyford said the business case for this project would be ready by November 2018. The fact it has been delayed this long shows his officials are struggling to make the project work on a value-for-money level.
“The Transport Minister’s pledge that he would have light rail completed to Mt Roskill within four years is looking like yet another broken promise, as almost two years on he hasn’t completed the most basic first step.
“Failing to deliver has been a theme across both of Phil Twyford’s Ministerial portfolios. This is more evidence the Prime Minister needs to either strip him of responsibilities or move him out of Cabinet altogether as part of her reshuffle.”
The proposed firearm buyback scheme announced by the Government will likely leave many owners out of pocket, undermining the legitimacy of the scheme, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“The feedback we have heard is that while some people are comfortable with the price list offered by the Government, thousands of people will be thousands of dollars out of pocket.
“Many people will be forced to hand over their guns at below market value which isn’t fair and isn’t right. The Government should be buying guns back at fair market value.
“The Government’s proposals put the integrity and legitimacy of the scheme at risk. If licenced firearm owners do not believe the price being paid to them is fair; they will not participate in the scheme, defeating the whole point of the buyback.
“National is the party of property rights and we believe licenced firearm owners should be compensated properly and fairly. Up until the passage of the recent Arms Amendment Act, people owned these firearms legally. Parliament has acted to make them illegal but when the Government confiscates private property, people should still be fairly compensated.
“The Government’s proposals are also troublesome in other ways. First, it looks like parts will also not be valued fairly.
“Secondly, safes are excluded. Many people have invested many thousands of dollars in high-spec safes which are now useless or irrelevant because the firearms previously stored in them will be handed back.
“Thirdly, for people with unusual or high value firearms, applications for special valuations will be at the applicant’s own expense. But the Crown should pay.
“The devil is in the detail and there will likely be thousands of people who will be thousands of dollars out of pocket. The critical thing is that the compensation scheme not only has to be fair, but it has to be seen as fair.
“This is a good attempt by the Government but falls short in many ways. The Government can and must do better.”
The Government’s much touted promise to add 1800 new frontline police officers in three years is in tatters, and looks set to be ‘reset’ a la KiwiBuild, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“In two years the Police have only added 472 new police to the force, taking into account attrition in the force. In recent months the number of new police officers has actually gone backwards, from 527 in March, down to 472 in June.
“Police Minister Stuart Nash and the Government committed to 1800 new police by the time of the next election, little more than a year away. Mr Nash has absolutely no chance of reaching that target and keeping his commitment to New Zealanders.
“Failure to deliver on promises is a recurring theme of this Government. KiwiBuild has only just cracked 100 houses, fees-free has been a flop and there’s been a measly 1 per cent increase in medicine funding.
“New Zealanders around the country will be disappointed at yet another broken promise by a hopeless and incompetent Government that talks big, but can’t deliver.”
MP for Hutt South Chris Bishop is inviting Hutt residents to a big Rally for Melling at Melling Station on Saturday 29 June.
The new Melling Interchange, a critical project for the Hutt Valley, has been delayed until at least 2028, despite “ticking all the boxes” in the words of the Minister of Transport.
“The delay to Melling is totally unacceptable, and we need to show NZTA and the Government just how wrong their decision is. I’m inviting the many Hutt residents who care deeply about this project to come and visibly show their support from 12.30pm on Saturday 29 June.
"Melling is a critical infrastructure project that will ease congestion, improve safety, allow for improved flood protection, and improve public transport, walking and cycling.
"It really does tick all the boxes, which is why the Government’s decision to delay funding until 2028 or later is so disappointing.
“The Rally for Melling follows on from my petition (www.chrisbishop.co.nz/melling) that thousands of Hutt residents have already signed, with numbers rising every day.
“The idea of a rally came out of my public meeting on the new interchange a couple of weeks ago. Hutt residents are fired up and want to show the Government this decision is short-sighted and wrong.
“People can indicate they’re coming on Facebook. I’m looking forward to the 29th. See you there.”
The news that safety upgrades on ‘Wellington’s most dangerous road’ have been delayed indefinitely is incredibly disappointing and flies in the face of the Government’s alleged commitment to road safety, says MP for Hutt South Chris Bishop.
“The construction of two roundabouts on State Highway 58 have been delayed, despite funding previously been approved.
“But NZTA says SH58 is Wellington’s most dangerous road.
“These upgrades to SH58 were meant to be in place by the time Transmission Gully opens, but that is now in doubt.
“This afternoon I questioned Road Safety Minister Julie Anne Genter about the delayed safety upgrades and she was unable give a straight answer about why these important projects have been delayed.
“The AA, the Road Safety Forum, and many Wellington residents are very concerned about the safety upgrade delays. The Government says road safety is one of their highest priorities but will not put money where their mouth is.
“The delayed safety upgrades comes on the back of news that the new Melling Interchange has been delayed until 2028 or later, Petone to Grenada has been effectively cancelled, and the Cross Valley Link is on the never-never.
“The Government is failing Wellington and the Hutt Valley.”
The Government needs to explain why the Budget contains a $10 million funding cut for Police to deliver the Road Safety Programmes, National’s Spokesperson for Police Chris Bishop says
“The Government has repeatedly said that it has made road safety one of its highest priorities.
“However, Budget 2019 appropriates spending of $331 million in Vote Police to cover the delivery of services outlined in the New Zealand Road Safety Programme directed towards the achievement of the road safety outcomes, down from $341 million in 2018/19 – a cut of nearly $10 million.
“This will mean fewer traffic cops on the road, fewer breath tests, and less enforcement of our driving laws. None of this enhances ‘wellbeing’, particularly when the Government has a ‘Vision Zero’ target for the road toll and has boasted that it has made road safety one of its highest priorities.
“This is yet another example of Government rhetoric being on a collision course with actual facts. Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter and Police Minister Stuart Nash need to explain how they have overseen a funding cut to Road Safety.”
Police Minister Stuart Nash owes New Zealanders an explanation about whether Police have had to buy back the guns that were stolen when they left the backdoor open, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Mr Nash and the Prime Minister said New Zealanders could hand their firearms into Police following the Christchurch terrorist attacks. But they didn’t check first whether Police could securely hold them.
“Last month 11 guns were stolen from Palmerston North Police Station, after a back door to the station was left open.
“National understands that to get back eight of the 11 guns that were stolen from Palmerston North Police Station, Police had to pay to get them back. Mr Nash refused to say whether or not Police paid for the return of the guns, despite being asked twice in Parliament today.
“The Minister needs to be honest about what has happened here. It would be deeply embarrassing for the Government’s gun buyback scheme to start by paying criminals for weapons stolen from a police station.”
Budget 2019 must appropriate money for the innovative and successful family violence intervention programme known as the Integrated Safety Response (ISR), says National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop.
“The programme was established by the previous National-led government and has been running in two pilot sites (Christchurch and Hamilton) since mid-2016. But funding is set to run out by 30 June 2019.
“ISR is a multi-agency programme that works to ensure the immediate safety of victims and children, and to work with perpetrators to prevent further violence. Key features include dedicated staff, funded specialist services for victims and perpetrators, and an intensive case management approach to collectively work with high risk families.
“An evaluation report in 2017 showed that the level of seriousness and frequency of family violence incidents reduced significantly in the six months after people came into contact with the pilot. So far 75,500 individuals have been through the ISR system, with 31,381 family safety plans created.
“The Government has talked a big game on family violence reduction, but so far have delivered little in the way of tangible improvements. National’s intention was always to roll out ISR around the country after the pilot period, and this Government should follow National’s lead.
“The Government missed an opportunity to strengthen and expand the ISR in last year’s Budget and they must not miss this chance again.
“They should be looking at expanding this successful programme around the country, rather than leaving providers in limbo waiting for new money.”
The Government is way behind on its commitment to adding 1800 new police over three years and the Police Minister needs at least another $216 million in Budget 2019 to even get close, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Stuart Nash has said he will count the new cops added by the Government from when the new Government took office, and has said he will take account of the number of cops leaving the force at the same time. Using his numbers, just 496 net new police have been added since 1 November 2017. The Government is miles away from meeting its coalition commitment before the next election.
“Winston Peters tried to laugh off the failure today in Question Time, and talked a lot about the number of new police being trained – but the facts are simple, just 496 net new police have been added since 1 November 2017.
“The Government is also facing huge fiscal pressure in funding Police. Advice to the Minister in 2018 was that $515.3 million was needed over four years to meet his target of 1800 new police in three years. Only $299 million was appropriated in Budget 2018, and Stuart Nash is on record saying he will need to go back to Finance Minister Grant Robertson to be ‘topped-up’ in future years.
“Mr Nash is going to need a lot of topping up - $216 million to be precise. Winston Peters couldn’t commit to that figure today in Question Time, throwing the Government’s commitment to this flagship target into question.”
Police Minister Stuart Nash has been caught out quibbling with words and semantics rather than admitting to the public a secret list of more than 100 people being actively monitored by police has been leaked to media, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“This is a very serious matter. Yesterday Mr Nash was repeatedly questioned in Parliament about the disclosure to Stuff of a top-secret watch-list of more than 100 people being actively monitored by police post the events of 15 March.
“Rather that confirming the leak, expressing concern and ordering an inquiry, Mr Nash essentially denied a leak had taken place.
“Mr Nash could and should have told Parliament yesterday that the Commissioner of Police had that morning ordered an investigation into the matter – but he didn’t.
“The Police Commissioner this morning confirmed the unauthorised disclosure of the list to media, by saying ‘the disclosure of this information is of significant concern to Police and we are taking this matter very seriously.’
Unlike the Police, Mr Nash is not taking this matter seriously at all.
“Mr Nash’s performance in Question Time today beggars belief. He justified his answers yesterday on the basis that the information was not ‘top-secret’, quibbling over the precise terminology applied to the information, and said that the disclosure to media was not a ‘leak’.
“Mr Nash needs to stop playing semantics and be up front and honest about exactly what has happened. This is a deeply concerning matter, as the Commissioner says. Why did he wait until Wednesday to finally confirm the leak, and why isn’t he taking it seriously? Why didn’t he tell Parliament yesterday an inquiry was underway – or did the Commissioner order it and not tell him?