The Prime Minister and her Housing Minister have been left red-faced and scrambling to explain critical statements Ms Ardern made when in Opposition about plans to build thousands of houses on the Unitec Site in Auckland.
“When reminded of Jacinda Ardern’s statements last year criticising the suitability of the Unitec Site for the then planned 2,600 dwellings, Phil Twyford could not address the concerns raised by his boss.
“When the National Government first announced this major housing development for the Mt Albert electorate, the local MP, Jacinda Ardern, told media ‘there are questions around what kind of urban design will that project have; will it have an effect on traffic; will it overflow our schools?’
“Poor old Phil Twyford had to cover for his leader, telling Parliament that Ms Ardern has been continuously supportive of the Unitec development and she was ‘excited for her constituents about the investment in their community’.
“It’s extraordinary that Ms Ardern was concerned about National’s proposals for 2600 houses, yet seems fully in support of Mr Twyford’s plans for up to 4000 houses on the very same site.
“Jacinda Ardern and Phil Twyford are back-flipping like Olympians – and going for Gold,” Ms Collins says.
Housing Minister Phil Twyford is struggling today to provide any detail on his KiwiBuild policy using the well-worn excuse that it is still ‘early days’, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“In Question Time today Mr Twyford did not know where the carpenters, plumbers and electricians were going to come from to build the 3000 - 4000 houses that he’s announced will go on the Unitec site.
“He also had no details as to his KiwiBuild visa and where these visa holders will live while building the houses.
“The one thing he has been able to confirm though, is Kiwibuild houses will likely measure 30 square metres for studio dwellings and 45 square metres for one or more bedroom dwellings.
“Incredibly, that’s smaller than a standard double garage and a long way from the aspirational dreams of many first home buyers.
“A major bank has confirmed today that for apartments of less than 30 square metres, there will be no lending and that one bedrooms less than 45 square metres will receive no more than 50% of the value of the property.
“That means that prospective purchasers will be expected to front up with a half of the value of the property and even then, won’t be able to sell it for five years.
“The lack of attention to detail on Labour’s flagship policy has continued from last week when the Housing Minister did not know that a 10 year warranty is mandatory for all new residential homes.
“Detail matters and, just six weeks out from announcing the details of the $2 billion spend in this year’s Budget, Phil Twyford has been shown to have no grasp of how to deliver on his big promises,” Ms Collins says.
Housing Minister Phil Twyford needs to stop re-announcing housing projects and get on and do something new in his portfolio, National Party Housing Spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Mr Twyford has become the Minister of re-badging housing projects and today’s announcement of the Unitec redevelopment is another example,” Ms Collins says.
“The previous Government signed off on Unitec’s investment plans to consolidate their campus and develop the spare land for housing.
“The plan change has already been through Auckland Council. We know that because various local councillors were opposing the development.
“All that has happened here is that a land development that was owned by one part of Government is now owned by another arm of Government. A pure re-badging exercise.
“The development at Unitec has already been factored into the plans and predictions for housing development in Auckland.
“All that seems to have happened here is that Mr Twyford wants to use taxpayers’ money to subsidise the building and selling of homes that were going to happen anyway.
“If Mr Twyford wants to be known as someone that actually adds new housing stock rather than re-badging existing plans he needs to come up with something new. Not just re-hash something that’s already happening.”
In spite of the Government’s spin and bluster its much-heralded Kiwibuild programme is yet to yield a single new house, National Party Housing and Development Spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Like so much of what we’re seeing from this Government they’re full of big talk but they’re not getting anything done.
“Case in point – 145 days into its sleepwalk at the helm of this country its flagship Kiwibuild programme is yet to result in a single house even being started.
“These houses are nothing more than a twinkle in the eye of the man who has done nothing but talk about them – Housing Minister Phil Twyford.
“That’s in spite of the Government promising to get Kiwibuild underway as part of its 100-day plan.
“Mr Twyford also confirmed in Question Time today that they are planning to buy off private developments that were already underway prior to the change in Government. That’s not adding anything – it’s bludging off the private sector.
“The Government just needs to be honest with the public. Much of the ‘Kiwibuild pipeline’ that the Housing Minister continues to talk about adds nothing new to the record residential building boom underway under the previous Government.
“Get on with it, Phil. People need homes, not pipelines.”
After nine years without a single train strike, unions are clearly feeling emboldened by the new Government with their fourth major train strike in the four months since Labour took office, National’s Transport spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Public transport has not been this unreliable since the 1970s. Aucklanders have had to deal with massive gridlock this week as the latest train strike forces thousands of rail commuters onto the already-congested roads.
“The National Government had plans for a number of new roads in Auckland to ease congestion but instead of committing to these plans, the Transport Minister Phil Twyford has put them under review and wants to spend millions of dollars on light rail in Auckland.
“But what will be the point of having more rail if the trains aren’t even going because the workers are all on strike?
“Frustrated Aucklanders have been asking for new roads, including an alternative to the East-West Link. While Mr Twyford keeps saying a plan for an alternative is coming, we’re yet to see anything.
“More immediately, Mr Twyford needs to ensure that Aucklanders are getting the public transport services they pay for. Without a reliable service, commuters will quite rightly get frustrated and seek an alternative.
“Congestion is costing business around $2 billion a year in lost productivity and it’s only being made worse by this week’s train strikes which won’t be the last.
"Mr Twyford needs to get his head out of the sand and commit to the roading projects planned by the previous Government so that New Zealanders can continue to get ahead.”
A booming freight industry and increasingly heavy road use in the Bay of Plenty further prove the need for the Government to commit to building a safe and reliable roading network in the region, National’s Transport spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“By holding our annual two day Caucus in Tauranga this year, National MPs have been able to see first-hand what difference the opening of roads like the Tauranga Eastern Link have had on the region,” Ms Collins says.
“While the National Government committed to building the Tauranga to Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway, as well as upgrading the Tauranga to Katikati link, the Labour Government is yet to front up on its plans for the region.
“The road upgrades in Tauranga must go ahead as planned to improve road safety and for the ongoing growth of the local economy. It is one of the most dangerous roads in New Zealand – as acknowledged recently by a local Mayor.
“The Tauranga Northern link had funding approved last year. The Labour-led Government needs to commit to the completion of this important road from Tauranga to Katikati.
“The Waikato expressway’s improvements as one of the first Roads of National Significance is doing immensely well and work must continue for its extension from Cambridge to the foot of the Kaimai Range and from Cambridge to Tirau,” Ms Collins says.
National recently launched petitions to four-lane the motorway from Tauranga to Katikati as well as to fund the extension of the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to the foot of the Kaimai Range and from Cambridge to Tirau.
“Let’s not rob the regions for a trolley service up Dominion Road, in the Prime Minister’s electorate,” Ms Collins says.
With the Government heading to Waitangi and Northern Mayors calling for answers, the Transport Minister needs to confirm whether or not this Government is committed to four-lanes from Auckland to Whangarei, National’s Transport spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Transport Minister Phil Twyford continues to obfuscate and fudge but the message is clear – this Government intends to build fewer roads, and to spend more on rail in Auckland.
“Motorists right around the country who pay to register their cars, for fuel taxes and road user charges will be paying for the Government to build a tram line between the Auckland CBD and Mt Albert – and not for new and better roads that grow regional economies, improve our transport links and ensure our transport network is safer.
“The previous Government recognised the importance of better transport links between Northland and Auckland. The four-laned highway between Puhoi and Warkworth is already underway and we had pledged to continue that through to Whangarei.
“This Government however is refusing to say whether or not it will continue with that pledge – and it looks like it won’t.
“This road would make the trip safer, encourage more tourists and visitors to travel north and would better connect the farmers and growers with the country’s largest centre. It would have a huge economic and social benefit and that’s why Northland’s mayors are calling on the Government to make it happen, and why the previous Government committed to it.
“Northland needs a better connection to New Zealand’s largest city and the main gateway to New Zealand for international visitors – this road would have ensured that but this Government doesn’t consider it a priority.
“While it spends the next five days in Waitangi talking about partnership the Government needs to show some intent and assure Northlanders that it will continue the previous Government’s investment in the transport infrastructure it deserves, or explain why it won’t.”
The National Party’s petition to save the Auckland to Whangarei highway can be found here.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford has confirmed the Government is considering diverting taxes paid by motorists who want better roads to rail instead, while insisting to media this won’t happen, National’s Transport Spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“This is an important principle, adhered to by successive governments, ensuring the specific taxes paid by motorists are invested in newer, safer and better roads – helping keep New Zealanders connected and safe. Road users pay taxes which are directly returned to them.
“But this now appears under threat, because of the Labour Party’s obsession with light rail in Auckland.
“Mr Twyford has written to stakeholders saying a number of changes to the Government Policy Statement (GPS) on land transport are being considered. Among the proposals is ‘exploring how rail investment is incorporated within the GPS and the National Land Transport Fund’.
“This is in spite of his office telling media last week that funding for road upgrades would not be redirected to rail.
“In his rush to erroneously claim that a number of roading projects aren’t under threat because of the Government’s obsession with Auckland rail, Mr Twyford has been saying different things to different people.
“This desperate grab for more taxes is the result of this free-spending Government realising how much it’s going to cost to build its pet rail line from Auckland’s CBD to the Airport - so it’s looking to divert funding from regional roads as a result.
“The NLTF is paid for by road users to be invested in improving New Zealand’s roading network and it should remain that way. The Government needs to check its priorities and ensure the taxes paid by road users are invested back in the roads they are using.
“Last week, National launched a series of petitions aimed at saving those regional roads that the Government is looking to slash funding for. Given this duplicity from the Government, I want to again encourage everyone to sign the petitions to save our roads,” Ms Collins says.
The petitions can be found here.
The National Party has today launched a series of petitions aimed at saving regional highway projects at risk because of the Government’s obsession with Auckland trams, National Party Transport Spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Roads from Northland right through to Ashburton are being ‘reviewed’ while the Government attempts to divert billions of dollars to pet light rail projects.
“The National Government committed to a large number of important regional highway projects right around New Zealand as the next stage in the successful Roads of National Significance programme to build a modern highway network. These would greatly improve safety and travel times, better connect our regions and boost regional economic growth.
“But Transport Minister Phil Twyford now says a number of these projects are under review. That’s not good enough – our regional communities deserve them and the National Party is committed to fighting for them.
“To ensure the voice of each region is heard the National Party is launching a series of petitions so the public can show the Government how important the projects are. Each MP responsible for their road will be taking their online and physical petition to present to the Government later this year.
The affected roads include:
- The upgrade of the Redoubt-Mill Road corridor from Manukau and Flat Bush to Papakura and Drury
- The extension of the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to the foot of the Kaimai Range, and from Cambridge to Tirau
- The continuous four lane extension of the Northern Motorway from Warkworth to Whangarei.
- An East West Link Road project between the Onehunga-Penrose industrial area and State Highways 1 and 20
- The Tauranga to Katikati Road project as a continuous four lane State Highway with wide lanes and safety measures
- The four laning of the Napier to Hastings Expressway
- The Otaki to north of Levin expressway road project
- The Christchurch Northern Motorway between Belfast and Pegasus
- The construction of the four-lane State Highway 1 link between Christchurch and Ashburton
“These are the most crucial transport linkages in their regions and the Government has wrongly thrown them into doubt. You can’t argue that you support regional New Zealand and then immediately take these key projects away.
“National Party MPs will continue to push the Government to continue these roads and I encourage the public to show their support,” Ms Collins says.
The petition can be found here.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford has thrown the future of more important regional roads into turmoil – all to finance a tram through the Prime Minister’s electorate, National Party Transport Spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“A growing number of vital roading projects right around the country are facing the axe, with Mr Twyford failing to commit to essential new roading projects, under further questioning in Parliament today.
“Yesterday he told the House that ‘all projects are under consideration’. This included the Redoubt Rd to Mill Rd corridor, the extension of the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to the Kaimai Range and the Christchurch to Ashburton road project.
“Today he refused to commit to the futures of the Otaki to north of Levin expressway, the extension of the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to Tirau and the four laneing of the Napier to Hastings expressway.
“The single project Mr Twyford has been able to confirm in the past two days is the Manawatu Gorge alternative route but he’s leaving the rest of regional New Zealand in limbo.
“These projects were all well-signalled and needed, with work well underway and regions gearing up around them.
“These projects will promote growth, provide jobs and ensure better and safer transport connections for hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders.
“They will also allow our regions to grow and support the building of much needed housing, but the Transport Minister is undermining confidence by imperilling their futures.
“This is a Government that claimed to stand behind regional New Zealand but it is regional New Zealand that is missing out. It deserves better than this from a Government which is putting politics ahead of progress.”