Cam Preston wrote to me with this message which ties in with our recent coverage of successive Governments spreading mis-information on how much was spent in Christchurch after the earthquakes. Here is what he wrote:
This week I have been listening to debate and comments from the mayoral hopefuls in Christchurch and Auckland.
In Christchurch I will admit to being disappointed at the standard of debate around important issues for the city, with issues like where the mayor will live or whether the council should pay for BBQ’s crowding out proper discussion.
Meanwhile Auckland hopeful John Tamihere is “shaking it up” in Auckland, and I was interested to observe that he is now using the incorrect ‘$14 billion’ price tag central government keeps peddling out to show its so called generosity to Christchurch, as an excuse for scrapping their local transport tax.
It feels like I have said this so many times, but I shall say it once more for those out there with black and white sets, $10.5 billion of the so called $14 billion spend was due to a failure of New Zealand’s public and private insurance industry. This was not Christchurch’s insurance industry. It was New Zealand’s insurance industry. For politicians to saddle the people of Christchurch with the failure of NZ insurance industry (one they partly own, and wholly regulated badly) – is not fair and equitable.
The consequences of this false figure will be felt for decades in Christchurch, if successive administrations continue to perpetuate the myth that central government have provided a lot of money for Christchurch infrastructure post-earthquake. This simply is not the reality. It is borne out in slow and non-existent ‘Anchor Projects’; continuing land drainage issues; broken roads and footpaths; and massive council debt.
And now we have misinformed Aucklanders telling the country that although the National Land Transport Fund is providing half of the $18 billion in funding for Auckland’s Transport Programme for the next ten years, they shouldn’t have to fund the other half themselves – it should all come from the Central Governments balance sheet instead! Because of how generous the Government has been toward Christchurch!
It is really important to point out that following the Christchurch Earthquakes, the Crown made the extra-ordinary decision that local Christchurch roads weren’t damaged and in need of repair due to the earthquakes, instead their ‘useful lives had simply been shortened’.
An additional funding of $183m was provided to NZTA (a separate Crown Entity) by Central Government specifically to address Christchurch earthquake roading issues. This money has never been fully drawn down on by NZTA and provided to local government, and nor does NZTA ever expect to. Have a look at the financial statements for NZTA in 2018:
When you compare this to the money already provided for the Auckland Transport Package (interest free), I can’t help but shake my head when I read articles like this: https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/canterbury-top-stories/115158978/christchurch-city-council-faces-tough-decision-fix-some-roads-now-or-more-roads-later
Why doesn’t Stuff make sure that their numbers are correct? Is anyone from CCC actually asking the NZTA the right questions – why does the NZTA have this funding from the Crown, but hasn’t passed it onto the Council for earthquake roading reinstate work needed now?
As a resident of a road in Richmond that hasn’t had earthquake repairs completed, because the Council have said the money isn’t available – when clearly it is – I find myself asking whether our local Council representatives have the tenacity, capability and ‘street smarts’ to negotiate central government funding?
What is more of a concern is that there are much more savvy politicians, such as Mr Tamihere in Auckland, who know how the cookie crumbles, who will use official (mis)information (like the $14 billion) to get a larger share of the fuel tax pie for their potential constituents infrastructure, while ours wring their hands and debate barbecues.
I hope the standard of debate improves in the coming weeks!