This Government has just passed its second birthday. It was an unusual birth for a new government in 2017. Jacinda Ardern had been Labour leader for a few weeks. The party with the most votes and the most MPs did not get into Government for the first time in New Zealand history. It is a good time to compare promise with performance, particularly with the PM calling 2019 the year of delivery.
Jacinda Ardern’s first big promise announced days after becoming leader was Labour’s plan for light rail in Auckland. The commitment was made with great fanfare alongside Mayor Phil Goff and Transport Spokesperson Phil Twyford. They promised that the first section to Mt Roskill would cost $1.4 billion and be completed by 2021.
Labour has completely dropped the ball on this flagship infrastructure project. The timeline now has construction not beginning until 2021 with possible completion in 2025. No design has been completed. No route has been determined. No contractor has been selected. Minister Jones says the price tag has blown out four-fold to $6 billion. The business case is not due until next February. NZ First is now questioning whether it will ever proceed. The incompetence is making Jacinda Ardern’s promise look foolish.
Everybody knows New Zealand has to get more infrastructure built. That’s why National put $1 billion into electrifying Auckland trains, $1.6 billion into the Waterview tunnel, $1.2 billion into Transmission Gully in Wellington, $1.3 billion into the rebuild of Kaikoura’s SH1 and locally the $40 million Ruby Bypass. The difference is that National got stuff done.
The fiasco over Auckland’s Light Rail is Kiwibuild 2.0. Jacinda Ardern promised 100,000 affordable homes over a decade - a 1,000 in the first year - 5,000 in the second -10,000 in the third year and 12,000 every year thereafter. The idea that the Government could build homes much faster than building companies and much more cheaply has become a joke. 6,000 Kiwibuild houses should have been completed by now but there are only 217. Most are not new but have been bought off developers. 100 are unsold because they are too expensive, poorly designed or in the wrong place.
Labour promised Nelson would get “at least 1,000” Kiwibuild homes. We have got none and none are planned. In contrast hundreds of homes have been built locally in National’s Special Housing Areas. The Homestart grants scheme I launched in April 2015 has since helped 1800 Nelsonians buy their first home.
Labour has also broken a long list of other promises like increasing police numbers by 1800, planting a billion trees, converting the Govt car fleet to electric and removing parental donations in all schools. Last week they also dropped their commitment on climate change over agricultural emissions.
Helen Clark and John Key went to great lengths to ensure they only promised what could be done. They were both very firm on ensuring Ministers delivered. The Government is terminal if it keeps up this incompetence and failure to deliver on what was promised.