Franklin County News
Brown to ask minister for more
City Rail Link $1b budget blowout:
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has broken his silence on the cost blowout of Auckland’s City Rail Link project, following last week’s announcement that the price of the project has risen by more than $1 billion.
The price of the project will now be $5.5b and its completion will be at least a year later than previously thought. Auckland Council and the Government are expected to split the higher cost between them.
Speaking on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report, Brown said he would have a ‘‘tough’’ discussion with the Government, pushing it to pay more than 50%.
‘‘We are where we are, and we’ve got to pay what is our fair share,’’ he said, adding that a discussion on how much, and how it’s paid for, would follow.
‘‘I’ll be going to the Government and saying, ‘Listen here mate we didn’t have 50% of the decision making’,’’ he said.
On Wednesday last week, the chief executive of City Rail Link Limited, Dr Sean Sweeney, defended the delay and the cost increase. ‘‘People need to remember that in Auckland we endured two level 4 lockdowns, a further 280 days of restricted working conditions (Covid traffic light system) and we lost 3.2 million hours through illness among staff, with 800-plus workers infected,’’ Sweeney said.
‘‘It’s $1b of public money. We take it very seriously but Covid has impacted the project.’’
However, Brown said he did ‘‘not really’’ agree the increase was a result of Covid. ‘‘We had no say in the Covid rules, we had less say than what I would like in the actual contract management set-up,’’ he said.
City Rail Link was a good project but the contract was set up poorly, he said. Future projects would need to be managed differently. ‘‘Things in the future in Auckland are going to be run by Auckland, not Wellington.’’
He said he would be working hard to try to minimise impact on ratepayers.
It was ‘‘absolutely true’’ there would be jobs cuts at the head office as part of a drive to close a forecast $295 million deficit in the budget, Brown said.
Asked how many roles would be cut, he replied: ‘‘Every person should be concerned.’’
We’re asking the council itself to make as much saving as it can and we’re particularly asking the CCOs to make savings, he said.
‘‘We’re in an economy which is in some difficulty at the moment and so everything has to be justified.’’
Transport Minister Michael Wood signalled no change to how the extra costs would be carved up between the government and Auckland Council.
‘‘The whole arrangement is set up on our 50/50 governance and cost share basis,’’ Wood said.
‘‘I’ll be going to the Government and saying, ‘Listen here mate we didn’t have 50% of the decision making’.’’ Wayne Brown