Steamed up over rail
THE rebuild of Christchurch must come first.
That is the message from Labour leader Phil Goff as he elaborates on his party’s plans to delay the Puhoi to Wellsford highway extension.
Mr Goff, who spoke to about 90 people at a Warkworth Grey Power meeting on Friday, says prioritising can be difficult but has to be done.
He isn’t ruling out the extension completely but says with a $16.7 billion deficit and Christchurch’s rebuild some things ‘‘have to be put on the back burner until the country can afford them.
Instead of spending $1.3 billion on the new highway, perhaps $1m or $2m could be spent to improve safety, he says.
Another thing Mr Goff thinks can wait are the $800m planned for missiles on naval frigates.
There is also more need to get people into rail and public transport, he says.
The northern railway line to Whangarei must remain operating, particularly to ease heavy freight use on roads, Mr Goff says.
A steam train excursion from Auckland to Whangarei brought out northern railway line supporters a day after his talk.
Green MP David Clendon was on the train to highlight a petition by a coalition of Northland groups aiming to raise 10,000 signatures by August 31.
Mr Goff is also sympathetic to the Northern Action Group’s attempt to have northern Rodney removed from the Auckland Council area.
He says Labour feels there has been ‘‘an abrogation of democratic process’’ and that northern Rodney has not had a fair hearing.
Mr Goff says Labour will listen but will not make a commitment to support the move.
It will be hard to turn it back now the Auckland supercity has been formed, he says.
The possible selling of four state-owned electricity companies – Mighty River Power, Meridian, Genesis and Solid Energy – and reducing a majority shareholding in Air New Zealand to pay for debt was dismissed by Mr Goff as economic stupidity.
‘‘Why sell a successful business? You wouldn’t sell a house to pay off the mortgage.
‘‘John Key says we will get $5b-$10b by selling the power stations. When the BNZ was sold to the National Australia Bank the country got $1.5 billion. The Australians have made $12.4 billion from it since,’’ he says.
Mr Goff is highly critical of Budget plans to halve government contributions to KiwiSaver, saying the Key government had broken an election promise.
Labour will invest more money in training young people.