Time for New 21st Century Housing and Transport Ministers #NZPols

Ministers incapable so we need new ones

 

It is time for this Government to go. Sadly for that to happen we need an Opposition ready to go and we don’t have one yet with Labour often chasing its own tail rather than the Government. Now there are a few good performers in there from both sides of the aisle like: Finance Minister Bill English is one I have time for, Labour’s Housing Spokesperson Phil Twyford might just get there with housing and Municipal Utility Districts to pay for the infrastructure Auckland needs, while Green’s Julie Ann-Genter is actually qualified in all things Transport so would be more suited to the transport issues we face. Thus those three would make a formidable Front Bench in getting New Zealand going but then dreams are free in this country where mediocrity is king!

 

But when you have a Transport Minister allergic to rail and oversees the New Zealand Transport Agency which is really the NZ MOAR ROADS Agency while the Housing Minister offers rewarmed pies as housing policy (see: Housing Minister Drops A Rewarmed Pie Housing Policy (From Last Year) #AKLPols) you know it is time to move those Ministers on and appoint ones that can actually lead and deliver solutions not rhetoric this Government is famous for.

The call to remove the Transport and Housing Ministers is even stronger when this happens as seen from Radio NZ:

Govt house build may be needed for Auckland – business lobbyist

5:57 am todayPatrick O’Meara, Economics Correspondent – patrick.omeara@radionz.co.nz

The option of large scale government-built housing should be put back on the table, a business lobbyist says.

Northern Employers and Manufacturers Association chief executive Kim Campbell said the government’s current plans were not working.

Mr Campbell said Aucklanders with homes and good jobs were doing better than ever but others were missing out badly, unable to afford the region’s high house prices.

“Clearly at the bottom end there needs to be something done. We have had 50 to 60 years (of doing it) and suddenly we’ve decided there isn’t a need, and one wonders. Whatever is happening now is not working.”

Houses are increasingly out of reach for many, with Auckland prices now nine times above average incomes, while unemployment of 6.6 percent is higher than the national average of 5.7 percent.

Council of Trade Unions (CTU) president Richard Wagstaff agrees that a government solution is the answer.

“The state has access to cheaper capital than anybody else. The state is the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff when all the stuff goes wrong. It’s a good investment and it actually creates employment, creates shelter. It puts people first.”

The Labour Party has long called for the government to step in and build houses in Auckland, and alleviate the worsening crisis.

The National-led coalition has rejected that in favour of less restrictive planning rules, special housing areas and Auckland Council’s yet-to-be decided Unitary Plan to deliver the houses needed to satisfy demand.

Mr Campbell said outdated planning laws needed to be scrapped as well.

“You can’t get things done fast enough, and it’s not just the Resource Management Act, (although) it’s crazy, adds far too much cost.”

Gridlock on Auckland’s roads is another headache, hindering growth.

While the government is spending billions of dollars to free up traffic, the managing director of Mainfreight, Don Braid, said more could be done to move people and freight using rail.

“With good, efficient rail passenger services we could move more people in and out of the city rather than worrying about the congestion.

“(And) being able to use more rail off the wharf than road would get some of our vehicles out of that congested mess in the central city.”

Some argue the congestion is a sign of success, as Auckland continues to attract more people, both from within New Zealand and overseas.

But independent economic commentator Michael Riddell disagrees.

………

Source and full article: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/business/304608/big-govt-house-build-‘needed’-for-auckland

 

When the EMA, the CTU call for a massive State Housing building program you do it. When Mainfreight calls for more rail investment YOU DO IT.

But when you see this from the Herald below you know our Ministers do not have the capabilities in doing so. So we stop being timid as citizens and demand their removal so we can get real Ministers who have the capability in doing the job needed:

Harbour tunnel raises rail worry

By Amelia Wade

Transport

Controversy erupted yesterday over research into a new Waitemata Harbour crossing, with public transport advocates claiming it won’t include rail.

But officials say the critics misinterpreted documents, and rapid transit options will be considered.

A current concept is for two combination multi-level tunnels from Esmonde Rd on the North Shore to Victoria Park in the city that will need to be built by 2030 to cope with the city’s growth, according to the Auckland Plan.

The briefing documents from the Transport Agency to Transport Minister Simon Bridges on the project’s status were released to Transport Blog under the Official Information Act.

Blog editor Matt Lowrie believed they showed the Transport Agency was favouring a road-only crossing because they were leaving it up to Auckland Transport to do the rail designation.

Leroy Beckett of the youth-led group lobby Generation Zero said the documents “effectively confirmed” rail would not be part of the crossing and so his organisation was calling for a rail connection to be at the top of the agenda for the local election.

In an NZTA paper from November 2014, one of the key issues was that there was no rail on the North Shore so Auckland Transport’s support for protecting the route for rail “now is unclear”.

However, a briefing document three months later said the business case to be completed next year would consider rapid transit options.

Mr Bridges believed the Transport Blog and Generation Zero had misinterpreted the documents and said the Transport Agency was using the term “rapid transit” in its plans for the crossing so it didn’t corner itself into using only rail rather than keeping its options open.

Mr Bridges said he was surprised by Generation Zero’s position on rail instead of looking at more innovative public transport options that were around the corner, such as autonomous buses.

“Rather than defaulting to rail technologies used since the 1860s, you’d hope that Gen Zero would be advocating for other options to be considered.”

An NZTA spokeswoman said the agency could designate only for the road component of the crossing and was working with Auckland Transport on ensuring the design was future-proofed and enabled a public transport crossing option.

…….

Source and full article: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11643578

 

I really think the Transport Minister needs to learn some very basic transport economics:

 

In terms of efficiency:

  • Buses = short distance and feeders to metro stations
  • Light Rail = medium distance
  • Heavy Rail = Long Distance or high-capacity shuttling like between Kingsland Park and Britomart

This is why the vaunted Southern Line is the most efficient form of moving people through South Auckland and to/from the Isthmus compared to the Southern Motorway (aka the Great Southern Parking Lot). It also shows why we should be investing in both light and heavy rail through Auckland for both passenger and freight sake rather than more roads and motorways. And given demand for industrial, commercial and residential space is in high demand near rail stations, rail freight hubs, and bus stations you would think investment in those transport modes would be an absolute priority.

Oh and guess what? Kiwi Rail freight actually turns over a profit of about $90m/year. It is the tracks which should be with a reconstituted NZTA that cause the loss making situation we see. So rail is indeed profitable in both terms of passenger and freight terms!

 

As with housing I know Auckland is in transition mode with the City waiting for the Unitary Plan to go live in September but that does not stop the Government embarking on the beginning of a large State Housing Program in the Special Housing Areas. Once the Unitary Plan is live then the full program can get under way with houses built to the limit of the zone allowed (meaning apartments in the Centres, and Terraced Housing and Apartment Zones).

By full program I mean 100,000 new State Houses built with 10% of them kept as emergency housing in times of those in dire need (and it happens). The other 90% could be offered on Rent-to-Buy schemes with the tenants so they through time own their own home. The proceeds are then used to go and build more State Housing – rinse and repeat. This can all be done in seven years (given apartments take a tad longer) with renewals done when required.

 

I care little for ideology and care even less for Ministers who can not execute solutions due to blind ideology. I do care for people and getting the City firing on all its cylinders. Hence if I believe a Minister is actually a road block to the well-being of the people and the City (and New Zealand) I will not hesitate in calling for the Minister’s removal.

It is time for Smith and Bridges to go and be replaced with people who actually know how to look after the people while getting Auckland and New Zealand moving!

 

Housing Nick Smith in front of a roaring fire while interview on The Nation. This is while people freeze in substandard homes (or cars)
Housing Nick Smith in front of a roaring fire while interview on The Nation. This is while people freeze in substandard homes (or cars)

 

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