I recently organised an event that I described as a “protest”. This was a first for me. For one thing, I’m not usually the protesting type. For another thing, resorting to such methods of gaining attention on behalf of an area, as an MP, should not be necessary.
The sad reality, however, is that I’ve become increasingly frustrated at the lack of attention to our area by government when it comes to providing basic infrastructure.
I have attended meetings with decision makers (or at least those who are tasked with making decisions!), sent letters, asked questions and supported petitions about these matters. All to little avail, so far. Hence the protest.
I styled the event a “shovel-ready project” protest, as a nod to the concept of the “shovel-ready project”. This was an initiative announced by government whereby communities were invited to pitch for immediate delivery of projects that were ready to get underway. The reality is that various transport improvement projects have not only been promised to this area, and therefore are certainly ready for shovels, but in fact are now well overdue.
That’s the background for considerable disappointment I felt recently on hearing about a new cycling bridge announced for Auckland Harbour. While many people like the idea of being able to cycle and walk across the water, the reality is that – in a constrained economic environment – chasing shiny new objects in the form of recreational transport projects elsewhere in Auckland will costs us dearly here.
Assuming only a modest cost blowout, the starting-point cost of that project – at over $700 million – will soon represent the thick end of a billion dollars. It’s a fair chunk of change when you think about other spending needs in the transport space or more generally around the place (for example, our crowded classrooms), come to think of it.
I’ll be replicating the “shovel-ready” protest idea elsewhere in the electorate, having started in Kumeu but recognising the serious need all around Auckland’s rural north and west too. In the meantime, take care out there on the roads in the state that we currently we have them, especially in the sad context of some significant accidents lately.