Andrew Dickens: Politicians need to stay out of the infrastructure sector

Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Friday, 23 August 2019, 9:25AM
Construction cranes rise above Auckland city's skyline. Photo / Michael Craig

This week the Herald released a supplement about Infrastructure edited by Fran O’sullivan. They do it every year. It’s a great read. Lot’s of smart people talking about big plans.

Micheal Barnett writes about the incredible opportunities in the Waikato-Government urban growth partnership and how it will help ease Auckland's pressure. Like Sleepyhead building a factory and town in Ohinewai to give workers cheaper housing. It's genius.

There's a great bit about Auckland Airports $4 billion redevelopment which is the biggest infrastructure project since the railways and it's all being done without tax or rate payers money and the logistics are immense and impressive.

Fletchers CEO Peter Reidy writes about the Construction Sector Accord. This a group of 20 of the biggest players from both the public and private sector charged with sorting out the mess the construction industry got itself in. The accord was announced in April and many said it would just be a talkfest. But Mr Reidy points out it's successes.

As I said. Smart people. Visions. Long term plans.

Then there’s the politicians. There are four pieces by pollies.

Labour’s Phil Twyford talks about the proposed suburbs at Unitec and elsewhere.  He bangs on about high speed trains to Hamilton, which is a lovely idea but pie in the sky financially, says nothing about trams and says all National wants to build is roads.

National’s Paul Goldsmith talks about roads. So maybe Twyford was right. But then he also lays claim to Auckland's Central Rail Link which his party fought against for years.

Then there’s the Auckland mayoral candidates. Phil Goff still talks about light rail being the answer and let’s clean the beaches.

But John Tamihere goes full bore crazy with his double decker harbour bridge, selling the water, moving the port, banning beggars and going down to Wellington and banging some heads and central government will pay for it all. This guy will say anything if he thinks it will get him a vote.

The guys in the private sector have concrete plans, long term visions, budgets and completion dates.

The politicians seem to come up with back of the envelope reckons,  politicising stuff. Reducing complex projects to slogans. Pretending their party are the only people in New Zealand who know what to do. Frankly if a bridge is needed a bridge is needed no matter what your politics are.

So the supplement also has the news that the new Infrastructure Commission will be chaired by former Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard and it’s board and CEO look very good.

Please, please, please let them get politicians out of the Infrastructure debate and let the grown ups get things done.

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