Simon Bridges: National will be the party of infrastructure

Opinion 24/12/2019

By Simon Bridges, Leader of the Opposition, National Party Leader, MP for Tauranga.

The hallmark of the first two years of this Labour-led Government is that not enough infrastructure has been built. Plain and simple.

Whichever way you look it’s been a failure to deliver. KiwiBuild is the most obvious example. It’s easily the biggest public policy failure in a generation, churning out a paltry few hundred homes that are mostly in places where there’s little demand from first-home buyers. Even Housing NZ doesn’t want them.

Then there’s the slow tram down Auckland’s Dominion Rd, which has turned into KiwiBuild 2.0 under Transport Minister Phil Twyford. At the last election, Labour said it would be completed between the city and Mt Roskill by 2021 but that promise went out the window pretty quick. It might not even happen this coming decade at the pace it’s going.

Road building has also hit the wall. Phil Twyford made damn sure of that by putting a dozen of National’s big roading projects on the back-burner. Now Finance Minister Grant Robertson is thinking about restarting them after two lost years of progress to avoid plunging New Zealand into an infrastructure crisis.

This has left Kiwis worse off as congestion grows, our economy slows, and the number of people waiting for housing has more than doubled in two short years.

National won’t make the same mistakes.

If we’re given the chance to govern in 2020 we will be the party of infrastructure. We will get on and build things.

We recently released two discussion documents that outline our priorities on infrastructure, transport, and housing. The documents signal our clear intention to establish a long-term pipeline of infrastructure projects to give the construction sector certainty.

National won’t neglect our highway network like Labour has. We will invest in the safe, efficient high-quality highways that motorists deserve in return for all the tax Labour has stung them with.

We’re proposing to complete our original Roads of National Significance and begin a second generation programme to connect our regions, unlocking their vast social and economic potential.

We will keep the Kiwi dream of home ownership alive by overhauling planning rules and repealing the Resource Management Act, which has been tinkered with to the point where it’s now a barrier to getting houses and infrastructure built cheaply and efficiently.

The current Government wants to borrow big to pay for the infrastructure we need. Racking up billions in debt on the country’s credit card means you, your children, and your grandchildren will be paying it back.

National will take a different approach by exploring new approaches to infrastructure financing and procurement, including commercial revenue schemes, partnerships with the private sector, and capital injections from general government spending.

We’ll deliver economic infrastructure that will grow our economy and create jobs, as well as social infrastructure that will see our kids taught in world-class facilities and provide us access to the best healthcare possible.

National is doing the hard work now so we can hit the ground running in 2020. Please give us your feedback here.

Simon Bridges is Leader of the Opposition, National Party Leader and MP for Tauranga.