New Zealand needs sound infrastructure, not wasted money says National MP

Simeon Brown outlines his Party’s plans and priorities

Simeon Brown has been elected MP from Pakuranga (National Party) from 2017 (Facebook Photo)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, July 16, 2022

A highly improved infrastructure, a better-maintained system of roads, elimination of wasteful expenditure, implementation of delayed or shelved projects and a reduction in bureaucracy in the central government machinery are among the five priorities that Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown promises if National forms the next government and if he appointed Transport and Public Service Minister.

Speaking at the monthly discussion organised jointly by the ‘Indians Living in Auckland’ Facebook Group and Indian Newslink on July 16, 2022, he said that while major cities like Auckland and Wellington must address transport issues, Light Rail is not the answer.

“We at National will not approve Light Rail since it is not cost-effective and does not solve the problem of traffic congestion. The Auckland Light Rail Project for instance is currently estimated to cost $29 billion and will not be ready until 2028, by which time, the country will go through two general elections. Besides, this project will serve only 10% of Aucklanders.

“Auckland Light Rail Project will cost every household $16,000. Why should someone living in Kaitaia pay for a transport plan which has no benefit for them? A National government will not implement a Project that costs a lot but promises little,” he said.

Wasteful expenditure

Mr Brown was critical of the government’s plan to construct a route from Wellington Central Business District to the Airport via the Victoria Tunnel.

“The Labour government has not only wasted more than four years in trying to start this project but has also spent $41 million on consultants. Ironically, this plan, which is a part of ‘Let us Get Wellington Moving,’ has stalled Wellington. National hopes to win the general election in 2023 and when we form the next government, we will get these projects moving,” he said.

Mr Brown claimed that the government has similarly ‘wasted’ $51 million on a cancelled Cycling Track in the Auckland Central Business District.

Regional and local development

According to him, discussions comparing transport systems in Sydney or Melbourne in Australia are pointless since New Zealand is small in population and economies of scale.

“Therefore, we cannot even consider networks such as the Metro Rail or large roads. Instead, we should progress regional transport systems. For instance, the Botany-Pakuranga-Manukau road network and the Reeves Road Flyover in East Auckland are projects that should be considered. We must face reality- Aucklanders prefer to travel by car. We should look at projects that are feasible and cost-effective,” he said.

Mr Brown said that Public Private Partnership projects should be considered.

Cycling is important and so are good roads but we should have a proper cost-benefit analysis.

“There should be a return on investment and we must judiciously spend public money. National will support projects that accrue long-term benefits to the people and the country,” he said.

Simeon Brown displays the first letter received from his grandfather on his election as Member of Parliament from Pakuranga in 2017 (Facebook Photo)

Debate on Public Service

Mr Brown said that there is a dearth of discussion and public input on Public Service, which he believes is critical for progress and development.

“Every government runs on the taxes and councils depend on rates to fund their projects. New Zealand has fallen behind in its delivery of quality services over the past five years. Be it education, health or transport, the government has failed to serve hard-working New Zealanders. The government has spent a lot of money but unfortunately on pointless things,” he said and cited as an example a new office of the New Zealand Transport Agency built in Wellington at $25 million.

“We have a cost-of-living crisis that needs to be addressed immediately and therefore spending so much money on a building is wasteful and questionable,” Mr Brown said.

He said that bureaucracy has ballooned in the past five years to reach 62,000 officials (from 48,000 under the National government before 2017), costing an additional $1 billion every year to the national exchequer.

Mr Brown said that the National Party will be releasing its policies and promises as a part of its election campaign next year.

“Because of poor Public Service record and the government’s failure to address issues effectively, it is not able to attract talent. Competent people are not interested in serving government ministries, departments and agencies. Only a National government can correct this and promise better value for money spent,” he said.

Simeon Brown answering questions from Rashna Tata during the ‘Indians Living in Auckland’ Facebook Group-Indian Newslink Online Discussion on July 16, 2022 (Screen Grab)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rising crime and falling safety

According to Mr Brown, while the New Zealand Police is rendering excellent service, the government does not do enough to support to ensure community safety.

“Law and Order have become a major concern in New Zealand, more so in Auckland. Incidents of murder, burglaries and similar crimes are on the rise. We need a government that addresses these issues properly and safeguards people,” he said.

Mr Brown said that as the Transport Spokesperson, he is concerned over the supply management crisis and the hold-up in the seaports of Auckland and Tauranga. He said that he would discuss the issues with the management of the ports in the coming days and consider possible solutions.

He apprised people in East Auckland of the initiatives of the local Police to keep the resident informed of their community safety initiatives and a dispute concerning the development of a property owned by Pak N Save and covenant held by Countdown (and Foodtown, its predecessor).

The Omicron wave of Covid-19

Mr Brown believes that while the community spread of Covid-19 is unfortunate, there was no cause for unnecessary alarm and no need to shift to the Red Light setting.

“Since a majority of New Zealanders have been vaccinated, I believe that there is no need for alarm. We should be able to manage the current challenge of Covid-19 by wearing masks in public and observing safety and public hygiene. The government should have invested in better health systems and delivery,” he said.

As we wrote this report, there were 9241 community cases with 29 deaths related to Covid in the country. There were 761 people in the hospital, 15 of them in intensive care. The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today was 9984, compared to 8687 on the same day last week. The seven-day rolling average of death was 20 and there were 1805 publicly reported deaths, while the seven-day average of hospitalisation was 727, compared to 520 last week.

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