What are his concerns about the impact on the community affected by the decision not to proceed with the previously announced tunnel option for the Waterview Connection?
I am very concerned about the impact of this proposed project on the community. In this case, there are no easy options. Even the twin two-lane tunnels proposed by the previous Government would affect 140 or so houses. It is my job as Minister of Transport to balance the concerns of the local community with the impact on taxpayers across the country. I believe that some of the concerns will be mitigated by the announcement from the New Zealand Transport Agency between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. this afternoon.
Why did he say in his media release yesterday that there will be consultation about today’s decision, when he has just ignored the previous consultation with exactly the same people?
The problem with the previous proposal was that it was completely unfunded and was, therefore, a wish—and, in fact, quite a cruel hoax on the community, because there was no plan to fund that project.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The use of the term “unfunded” has already been decided by you and the Clerk’s Office to be inappropriate in this context. It was—
What reports has the Minister seen on funding methods for a $2.77 billion tunnel for the Waterview Connection?
I have seen a wide range of possible options on how such an expensive roading project could be funded. They have included increased Crown debt, with a large interest bill, plus substantial tolls; a 20c per litre fuel tax; or a 35-year regional property tax of around $460 per household in Auckland per year. I have not ever seen which one of those options Labour prefers, or any indication at all as to how Labour would propose to pay for such a tunnel. I think that meets the definition of unfunded.
Will he compensate landowners whose homes are not demolished but who now face a motorway of up to six lanes eventually running by their homes, when such a motorway will affect their property values?
I think it is appropriate, as I said before, to wait for the New Zealand Transport Agency to announce this afternoon its preferred proposal for the project, before responding to that question.
Does National understand what Sheelah Chalklen and her neighbours mean when they say that “These are not houses, as the Minister refers to them, but homes.”?
Did he or his office have any influence at all over the timing of today’s announcement by the New Zealand Transport Agency about the Waterview Connection—an announcement scheduled to occur after question time has been held?
Not at all. The New Zealand Transport Agency met yesterday to make its decision as to the proposed alignment, and then it told me that it needed 24 hours to have the first opportunity to contact affected residents in the community. The decision as to the timing of the release this afternoon is the agency’s.