The Government is expecting Auckland to spend $30 billion on infrastructure over the next ten years — over half of the total local Government infrastructure spend over the same period, and almost as much as central Government will spend.
Of the $30 billion, $8.5 billion will be on roads; $2.8 billion on rail and $2.5 billion on fresh water, storm water and sewage.
The figures are contained in Treasury’s annual National Infrastructure Report which was released on Friday.
Finance Minister Bill English says of the 3823 projects in the 2016-2025 pipeline, 219 belong to central government and are valued at $40.5 billion, 3559 belong to local government and are valued at $51.1 billion, and 45 projects belong to the private sector at a value of $9.2 billion.
This year’s Auckland figures are up over seven per cent on last year.
That would tend to suggest that those who argue the Auckland infrastructure cost estimates are too low might have a point.
Of particular concern is the possibility that the current projection of $1.7 billion for the central rail loop will grow.
But there are wider concerns about the ability of the country to actually deliver the infrastructure contained within the Treasury plan.
“Right now we have plans with no money and institutions without the capacity to deliver,” said the CEO of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development, Stephen Selwood, at a presentation las month on the impact of the Resource Management Act on infrastructure.
But Finance Minister Bill English said publishing the information offered transparency and provided businesses with greater certainty.
The Auckland estimates dwarf the rest of the country. Even Canterbury is projected to spend only $5.1 billion over the same time frame.
“The plan signals central government’s investment intentions over the coming years, which includes $3.8 billion in social investment – such as health, education and property projects in Canterbury,” says Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister, Gerry Brownlee.
“On top of that, the government will spend $1.3 billion on transport projects in the region.
“Total government investment in Canterbury currently tops $5.1 billion.
But Wellington and Hamilton — though their jurisdictions are comparatively smaller to Auckland will spend just $2 billion between them.
At the other end of the scale, the Chatham Islands Council needs to spend only $45 million till 2025.
The Greens were particularly critical of the proposal because of the emphasis on roading.
Their Transport spokesperson, Julie Anne Genter the report showed that infrastructure spending on rail had declined, while spending on a few expensive stretches of the highway had increased over the past three years.
“It shows that all central government transport spending between 2016 and 2025 has been earmarked exclusively for highways, including in Auckland, Waikato, Wellington, Canterbury and Northland. There is nothing for rail infrastructure<’ she said.
And she raised the question of how Auckland’s spending will be funded.
“It’s not clear where the funding will come from for the rail projects identified in the Auckland Transport Alignment Project, like electrification to Pukekohe and rail to the airport.”
There is growing pressure from within Auckland business circles for the Government to answer that question and, if necessary, for it to pull forward the congestion charging proposal which the Prime Minister has said may not be introduced till towards the end of the period which the projections span.