National's road-building spree missing crucial climate calculations
Nationals efforts to convince voters it is more trustworthy than Labour on the economy have been undermined by the transport minister claiming he has found a $2.8 billion hole in their $24bn transport policy . But Nationals plans to build 12 more roads of national significance, including a four-lane highway from Tauranga to Whangarei , are also missing a roadmap to how it would drive down carbon emissions, Professor Bronwyn Hayward from the University of Canterbury said. When we have talk about fiscal holes ... the new ways of thinking about it are being able to talk about your effect on emissions and the long term effect on future generations, she said. National announced its $24b transport policy on Monday, but Transport Minister David Parker said the plans estimates were based on old data and failed to take into account higher road construction costs. Roading materials had become much more costly, growing by 45% between March 2021 and September 2022, while labour costs grew by 7.5%. Diesel was up 90%, steel was up 57% and bitumen prices rose by 104% during the same period, he said. Labour, during the 2020 election campaign, also found a $4bn hole in Nationals economic plans , which played a role in its election defeat. But Nationals transport spokesperson Simeon Brown stood by his calculations, and promised to finish every project. Its rich for Labours transport spokesperson David Parker to today suggest theres a shortfall in Nationals costings. National used the upper figures of the Governments own range of costings that are publicly available, and we have set aside a significant contingency of $1.4b, he said. Parkers analysis found shortfalls in four of Nationals projects, of between $2.8bn and $4.8bn. He said he was surprised when he found the gaps. The Opposition didnt have access to some of the latest official figures to build its calculations, he conceded, but other mistakes were made despite publicly-available data. That includes its calculations for Tauriko West State Highway 29. National has put the cost at $1.9b but Waka Kotahis latest estimates put the cost range at $2.5b to $3.25b. I like the public to have confidence in the Government, and I don't think it reflects well on this place when people for political advantage put out cost estimates which are so patently wrong. Nationals 2023 election campaign appears to have made Labours economic stewardship the central talking point, as it seeks to convince voters the Labour Government cant be trusted on the economy. Brigitte Morten, a political commentator who has advised and is a member of the National Party, said it had reclaimed the narrative of being leaders on the economy. The public was more interested in completed roading projects, than suggestions their budgets had been miscalculated, she added. But Hayward said National needed to be more upfront with how it would meet its climate obligations with tangible examples. More roads would result in more people using them. Rather than just saying we will invest in new technology, can the effect be managed and reduced? she said. We need all the parties putting up proposals on big infrastructure spends to cost them as to what it means unde the climate commission budget. She called for National to show responsibility for how it would be reducing climate emissions overall, and said there was public demand for leadership because 80% of the public thought climate change was a serious issue.