ZB

Mike's Minute: A sobering week of reminders of how far we've fallen behind

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Fri, 25 Mar 2022, 9:53am

Mike's Minute: A sobering week of reminders of how far we've fallen behind

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Fri, 25 Mar 2022, 9:53am

Have a look at the new bridge in Turkey that opened this week. It's the world's longest suspension bridge and it's spectacular. 

They claim it will generate twice what it cost in economic returns. It produced 118,000 jobs. 

What stands out about it for me is not just the fact it's spectacular, but the fact that Turkey did it. They're not really one of the planet's great economic powerhouses. 

And this week here, that dreadful report that reminds us yet again that when it comes to things like infrastructure, we are hopeless. 

The gap between what we have and what we need is widening. We have the fact we waste money at a spectacular rate when we do build stuff. We have the fact that when something starts it doesn’t end on time or on budget. We have the fact things cost more than they need to. 

Transmission Gully is ready, apparently. But what a history of mismanagement. The Puhoi road north of Auckland has been going for years and still has no opening date. Let's Get Wellington Moving has done anything but and the consultants get rich while nothing happens. 

Then you have the ideology of the bike lanes, the bus lanes, and the coloured planter pots. All cost a fortune, aren't used, and add nothing to the economy. All in the vein of hoping that people will take to them on their new bicycles in city centres they no longer come to town to work in. 

The light rail project for Auckland that has been announced twice was supposed to be set by last year, and still hasn’t even started. Let's be honest, given the guess work around the price at $15 billion, or maybe $30 billion, will likely never see the light of day. Don't forget the $50 million spent on the cycle bridge that got cancelled anyway. Let's not even mention the CRL. 

I mean it could be worse. I am always astonished at America, the most powerful country and economy on Earth, and yet full of bridges that keep collapsing and infrastructure that belongs in Eastern Europe. You ever taken a plane domestically in America? It's like 1986. 

But really, what this country appears to do well is write reports outlining why so much stuff doesn’t work or live up to expectation. This week we've had the infrastructure report and the mental health report. $1.9 billion they cried, and for what? Well, the report tells us not much. 

The Auckland report. Dysfunction that’s led to the place being the way it is. The literacy report where nearly half kids don’t go to school regularly, and 20 percent of 15-year-olds can't even read. 

It's a shockingly poor state of affairs. 

No one gets it perfect, obviously, but in a single week we have a shelf full of reminders that who we should be is not even close to the reality of what we are.