I’m pleased to see the government announcing massive infrastructure spending today. They deserve applause.
But let’s be clear about what we’re applauding them for. We’re applauding them for finally doing what we’ve been begging them to do, which is to spend money on roads.
And even then, they haven’t agreed to much, they haven’t said yes to any specific roads, or even told us how much they’re spending on roads specifically. They’ve just agreed to think about which roads and think how much to spend.
But you know, at this stage, we’ll take what we can get, because this country is ridiculously congested and any sign that they’re prepared to abandon their ideological opposition to roads is welcome.
The announcement, though, is pretty light on detail. This is what the spend is.
Total: $12 billion
- $6.8 billion for new transport projects
- $300 million for regional investment opportunities
- $300 million for District Health Board asset renewal
- $200 million for public estate decarbonisation
Problem is how long’s this going to take?
If you’re at the stage where you’re not even sure what projects you’re going to spend the money on, I’d say we’re years away from seeing anything yet, because now the government’s going to waste a few months deciding which projects to say yes to.
Then they’ll have to be consented. Then it’ll be an absolute punish finding construction companies who have the capacity to take on extra work. So it could be years yet before any real infrastructure money is spent.
And all of this, do I need to remind you, puts us back years. When some of these roads were already given the OK by the last government and this government killed them off when they came into office, so we have lost years over ideology, and now we’re playing catch up.
So when do we find out what this money’s going to be spent on? Early to mid-next year, just in time for the election.
So yes, a round of applause to the government, but begrudgingly.