Joyce Still Dismissive Of CBD Link


Transport Minister Steven Joyce has again poured cold water on plans for the CBD rail tunnel and even more so for North Shore rail.

Speaking only weeks out from the May Budget when rail advocates hope for some good news about Auckland commuter rail, the Minister labelled the CBD rail link plan the proposed CBD Loop Tunnel “expensive” at $2.3 billion.

He said he had asked for a review of the business case for the tunnel because it would be “irresponsible for the Government to even consider being involved without being confident of having the full facts.”

He was even more dismissive of the plans for North Shore rail.

He said officials believed it could cost another $6 billion to $7 bilion to run rail tracks to Albany because of the need for more tunnelling given that the busway corridor would be unsuitable.

“Many people want us to invest in more rail projects. It’s amazing how generous they can be when it isn’t their own money.”

While we have heard all this before so it is no surprise, it’s significant as the Budget is well advanced and despite the attendance of Government Ministers at the Auckland Unleashed summit to launch the Spatial Auckland Plan , there is absolutely no hint that the Government has the slightest enthusiasm for the Mayor’s Auckland rail project vision.

But it goes without saying there is no such questioning of certain expensive highway plans.

Through tunnel looking like a lost dream

The thumbs down was not just about rail hopes.

KiwiRail has been talking about a new Wellington ferry terminal and a new port at Clifford Bay south of Seddon in the South Island to improve travelling times.

Steven Joyce was also cautious about the CliffordBay idea saying: “It’s very early days. We’ll look at it but it would be overstating the case to say it’s back on the agenda at this stage.”

He made his comments to a rail conference in Wellington.




  1. John Dalley says:

    For the advancement of PT especially in Auckland but also NZ, at the very least Joyce has to go.
    His head is buried so far up his A** that his brain is lacking enough oxygen to make competent rational decisions.

  2. rtc says:

    It’s funny how happy Joyce is to spend other people’s money on roading projects, yet makes out as though the very same people providing said money are mad if they think the money could be spent on rail.

  3. Paul in Sydney says:

    Do I have to come home and vote, so I don’t have to read about the dumb comments he makes

  4. Jon Reeves says:

    If I am in NZ or still in Switzerland I will vote…it will be for a pro-PT/rail MP and party though. Guess who won’t get my vote?

  5. Andu says:

    Yup , I’m in London and I can vote, guess who I won’t be voting for….?Initials are S and J, and party begins with an N.

  6. James B says:

    “Many people want us to invest in more rail projects. It’s amazing how generous they can be when it isn’t their own money.”
    It is our money.

  7. Cam says:

    @James exactly. As is the $1.6 billion for puford that he’s spending “on our behalf”.

    What an arrogant fool this man is.

  8. Matt says:

    Tell your friends all across Auckland. A vote for National is a vote against fixing Auckland Public Transport. Maybe we can get a ragtag coalition of non-National Parties over the line to be the next government.

    The National Party. Right in the Wing. Not right in the Head.

  9. Buffalo Bob says:

    Matt there is only 1 party that is interested in PT the Greens ….coz Labour certainly isnt….(well at the moment….still wating for some policy chaps…)

    Stuff the government ..we can do it on our own…. Auckland will soon have the power to borrow foreign money…

  10. James B says:

    Don’t you know PT advocates don’t pay taxes? We just bludge off the good honest motorway advocates toil. Sigh. This is why I think Auckland should be its own state. Then we can collect our own taxes and pay for things we need rather than being centrally planned by Wellington.

  11. Gary S says:

    The Super City appears to have changed little. Aucklanders still have big wish lists which they want others to pay for. Sorry, but Auckland Transport is Aucklands problem and will have to be paid for by Aucklanders. The rest of the Country has its own problems. Besides not passing the money through Wellington for them to clip the ticket will leave more for us.

  12. James B says:

    @Gary S. In that case can we please have our tax dollars back? Aucklanders have to be pay for the national museum in Wellington. Yet we get no money to run our museum which effectively caters for a third of the population and thus could considered more of a national museum. Our tax dollars go to pay for schools in rural areas which are logistically more expensive to run due to low enrollments. Yet we are told that closing them will destroy their communities. We will have to pay to rebuild Christchurch. Yet when we ask for a little bit of the money that we pay in taxes back, you call us bludgers? The whole point of being a country is to share resources. I don’t begrudge spending in other regions by central government. But for too long other regions have lived large off Auckland’s taxes while we got nothing.

  13. Andrew says:

    @Paul, @Jon, @Andu … unfortunately nobody voted for Joyce last time either, but he still got in.

    It’s been amazing how generous he has been funding Think Big Roads when it isn’t his own money.

    (who said something like that again?)

  14. Matt L says:

    Gary S - As a percentage the government currently spends less on Auckland than it generates in tax from the region and it also as share of total spending it spends less than the percentage of population of the region. About 31% of government funding is spent in the region but 33% of the population lives here and the population is growing faster than anywhere else.

    Further to this a big part of the justification for the CBD tunnel is that it will allow much more development in the CBD. More development in the CBD means more businesses and more jobs and overall a larger tax take for the government.

    So the question is why should Auckland pay for the tunnel alone when the rest of the country will benefit from improved economic performance brought about by it. Another thing is Auckland isn’t asking the government to pay for the whole thing, we know we will have to pay for some of it ourselves but at this stage the government isn’t interested in spending 1c on the thing.

  15. Anthony says:

    Im going to Perth in a week so i’ll take lots of pictures of the Cheap, efficient Transperth system and send it to joyce with a little note

    “Another reason to live in Aussie, no insane, head-in-sand transportation pollies live there”

  16. Cam says:

    @ Gary - no problem at all let’s keep 100% of Aucklands tax and fuel excise duty in the region and every other region can fend for itself. We would be more than happy with that, let us have our own money to fix our own problem and we’ll be sweet.

  17. Andu says:

    @ Gary - Haha. Please, the ‘rest of the country’ has to stop getting so offended when Auckland demands what it is due. If we are just whingers and the rest of the country ‘has its own problems’ as you say, we’ll have every single tax dollar generated in Auckland back thanks, and then we’ll have PLENTY of money to pay for what we need, with spare change left over. And the rest of the country will get ……well very little. I hope that you are not representative of most NZers, because I hope most are enlightened enough to realise how much they benefit from Aucklands taxes, and how much MORE they could benefit if NZ has a big city functioning correctly.

  18. BD says:

    Well at least guys we know the Christchurch earthquake wasn’t the main reason for the CBD rail loop to be built. Just an excuse they use so they won’t built, disgusting guys! I’m really worried about National winning the next general election and refusing to spend anymore money on rail transport, and more money on roading projects aimed at spreading Auckland’s urban sprawl for generations to come.

  19. Kurt says:

    We seem to have plenty of money to give away or “lend” to Joyces old company Media Works though.

  20. Giel says:

    I really do love this “Dr Evil” characterisation of Mr Joyce,,, He even looks a bit like him….Who is the equivalent of Austin Powers to save the day??

  21. Cam says:

    “Who is the equivalent of Austin Powers to save the day” - Dunno but apparently it will be someone using positive advocacy right?

  22. Paul Q says:

    Sorry Giel, apart from being bald on top, he doesn’t look a bit like Dr Evil.

  23. Giel says:

    Paul  fair enough. My point was more that many people on this blog seem to be demonising him. My own view, as I have said before on this blog, is that while not perfect he is somewhat sympathetic to Rails plight and that we shouldn’t keep blaming him for the sins against rail of the last 50 years! He has a tough job and accusations against him are reminiscent of those against Peter Gordon a long ago  National Minister of Railways named The Great Train Robber who actually when history looks back was seen to do quite a lot for Rail as well as make some tough unpopular calls. People were always cartooning that chap. Joyce may in time prove himself not that bad. The RoNs obsession thing I Agee is frustrating but he is a politician warts and all. I still think he will come around on the CBD loop. I know many disagree here so I wont labour the point.

  24. Patrick R says:

    Giel I agree personal insults are not an argument. But I cannot find any evidence in his actions that Joyce is anything other than actively hostile to the very thought of rail. The turnaround plan is a only because of pressure from some big players like Fonterra, but even that is not what it seems… the money isn’t really what he says it is, mostly coming from KR’s own balance sheet. Furthermore because it involves such a narrow set of terms and mean definition of what KR is for and what success might mean, as well as amputation of outer limbs, it really is merely a clever slow strangulation not revivification.

    Why the hostility? Bit hard to say, it clearly isn’t from any objective understanding of where we are in the world. Ideology partly; railways are unionised, state owned, and to his his stuck- in- last-century world view, old fashioned. To a provincial small town mind, they don’t fit. But also, his is a ministry clearly almost entirely captured by a few vested interests, especially big trucking. True of this whole business focussed govt. It is govt. for Sky TV, Infratil etc…. This is very tricky in a small country because whatever your politics the govt. can often be the only player in certain fields, esp. infrastructure. Look at ther dog’s dinner we’ve got trying to invent competition in the electricity market. Weirdly for those that so value competition the result is often a monopoly for one company if you take the state out….Sky TV for example.

    Joyce is also highly effective, organised, tough, uncompromising. Also like many ‘action men’ he seems to lack flexibility, once he is on a course he seems unable to reconsider or be open to other views.

    And, it is clear in one crucial area at least he is also just plain wrong. So this really does make him dangerous. His highway building programme is at best unwise, but more likely criminally stupid given what we know about the costs of being committed to such structures as this century, this decade unfold.

  25. Cam says:

    I just can’t see how anyone, even Joyce’s staunchest supporters, could describe him as sympathetic to rail’s plight.

    I mean seriously even he, himself would not say that.

  26. Giel says:

    Interesting position Patrick R. I agree rail has historically been a bit of a socialist enterprise with working class roots. Much of the blame in NZ can be attributed to a rail malaise of service indifference going back to the 1960′s when Railways thought NZ owed it a living. Unfortunately many older NZders still have this strange view of rail being old and irrelevant based on that history.

    However as time passes this is changing and most younger people perhaps on the whole don’t have this prejudice based on last centuries experience. As many of that old generation pass on it will become apparent that a new age of the railway will emerge and despite
    what some may think it will take more than Any one minister to hold that back!

    In regards to Turnaround Plan Joyce has always been clear that $700 million is from the Government the rest of the $4.3 Billion from KRs free cash flow - his view being they don’t have to pay a dividend for ten years and can plough all surplus cash back into the Business to finish what the first “free” $700 million from the Government started off.

    Cam Mr Joyce has said several times he sympathizes with Rails plight including at last years Transport
    Summit as well as the ARA rail conference. I guess it’s
    up to individuals to decide whether to believe him or not

  27. Patrick R says:

    Giel, with everyone, but especially politicians, it’s the actions that tell you what you need to know, not the words.

  28. Cam says:

    “Cam Mr Joyce has said several times he sympathizes with Rails plight including at last years Transport Summit as well as the ARA rail conference. I guess it’s up to individuals to decide whether to believe him or not”

    Well no it’s up to him back it up with actions, which so far he has not. I have not read anything anywhere that he has said he is sypathetic to rail’s plight. What i have read is when he is questioned on the subject he says his government is commited to all forms of transport which is vague politician speak and usually backed up by him stressing the need to invest in roading first because that’s what everyone uses and it’s self funding etc etc.

    Do you have some quotes on the rail sympathy thing? because i’ve missed them.

  29. Giel says:

    Cam - You are demonising the man. He is not an arrogant fool as you characterise. Have you ever even spoken with him or met him? He is articulate highly intelligent man who said does understand rail advocacy - Quote

    “Rail advocates are passionate about rail and I understand and support that.”
    Speech to 2010 New Zealand Rail Conference, 21 April, 2010

    The quotes I remember for sympathy are along the lines in his interviews where he says things like paraphrase “Look I understand the situation rail is and I sympathise with that but we have to be realistic about what rail can do” Exactly when and where – if I can be more specific I will but sufficient to say he doesn’t constantly bag rail.

    I am not a fan of him by the way, just a pragmatist, who understands to make progress you work with all sorts of people (even ones that don’t necessarily share the same view as you personally). By the way that is not condescending to people - it is just a constructive way on how to influence.

  30. Luke says:

    that quote you give from Joyce is very condescending, as he often is in the house to Gareth Hughes and others.
    You seem to forget he is a politician, and says the right things to the right people. However most of his public statements are negative and dismissive.
    Yes the Kiwirail turnaround plan is positive overall, and we can thank him for that. However on metro rail and PT he has done nothing positive.
    I dont think he is personally stupid, just think his policies make him him seem like an arrogant fool.

  31. Cam says:

    Giel - I’m not demonising anyone just highlighting the fact that our transport minister is not pro rail as you insist that’s hardly the characteristics of a demon, neither is being arrogant or foolish. Which he has proven over time to be. He may pay some weak lip service towards rail but what does that mean? Seriously it’s baffling to me and i would guess most others on this forum that you still maintain he’s ‘pro rail’. It’s bizaare.

    Lecturing people on this forum - who are venting frustration or expressing how they feel about what they see as this government’s dangerously unbalanced transport policy - is condescention pure and simple. It’s like being patted on the head while someone says “now, now settle down you’re being very silly”

    People know Stephen Joyce is not evil, nobody has said that, what they have said is that he’s blinkered and bound by ideology and he’s peddeling a policy which has the potential to negativley effect both our counrty and cities in future.

    Just let people vent their opinions if they like. These forums are sometimes the only outlet for that. This forum is not going to influence any policy on Joyce’s part it’s just a place for people who share an interest in public transport to discuss, debate, and share opinions.

  32. Giel says:

    Guys - I accept you may not be trying to demonise him. I have not said he is “Pro Rail” nor have I said he is Pro Roads. He said it himself - he is not “Pro Rail” so not sure why you think I said he was. As I said I don’t agree with him in a number of areas in regards to transport but what I am saying is we should battle away and have informed debate rather than putting a lot down to one man (or a few select people). I still think he has come a long way from where he started on Rail as Minister and he is a key person to influence in a positive way (read he still has a way to go). By the way politicians and their advisors sometimes do take note of blogs - I have seen it.

    I can tell we all share a similar passion for Rail which is great – let’s try and get some action. We can put that passion to good use by getting our opinions supported by the facts out there.

    AKT you should consider releasing press releases to organise and get across key points - we can still state our opinions but backing up with facts is important to changing peoples views. Scoop is a good outlet for ‘minority’ interest press releases that are sometimes picked up by mainstream media - CBT do a good job in part there already. The RTF under Tony Friedlander did that for years - (often twisted the facts to half truths) but no one denies how effective they were. The Greens used to be quite good at that too but seem to be fairly silent these days. There is a lot of collective knowledge on this forum (and others) - key is to harness it for the outcome we all want. You could send alerts out on the website if there were issues that we had to get information on. Readers could respond! If all we do is vent on blogs we can be assured on getting nowhere or even worse seen just as “foamers” / “ trainspotters”. I do accept there is a role for venting but can’t we go one better?

    The thing about Gareth Hughes is he used to talk up Rail but often didn’t back it up with accurate facts so as a politician Joyce jumped on it. Now Joyce also, as many have highlighted here often, also did not get his facts right many a time but who jumped on him when he was wrong - no one. That annoyed the hell out of me as I know it annoyed most on this forum.

    Let our collective knowledge speak for itself. That is the beauty of the internet - you can use it wisely to disseminate real information to change peoples views over time.

  33. Jon C says:

    @Giel Thoughtful responses and contributions. Thanks for that.
    The About section of the blog makes it clear this blog does not have a political agenda. I am not a member of any pressure group or party and the blog is not anti or pro any particular party or indeed any Minister. It is a place for news and debate about Auckland and transport issues. I am not interested in people demonizing individuals and have tightened up on debate recently where people have overstepped the mark in comments about certain individuals.
    But i would not under-estimate the chatter that goes on behind the scenes in which politicians monitor this site and contact AKT and improvements have resulted. It is in fact a little scary to me that an often fast response is received from a public official or representative from a body to a post or comment on here. There have been several already today.
    As you say that is the power and good of the internet.
    If we were just all chatting to ourselves and no one who should was taking notice, I would see little point in this site continuing.

  34. Giel says:

    Good work Jon C

    I have been following this blog from the beginning, in the early days a couple of years ago, and have learnt a lot from it and others on here. You must be very proud how it has developed in such a short space of time.

    So keep it all up Guys - You can and do make a difference

    Cheers Giel

  35. Jon C says:

    @Giel That is very kind.

  36. Patrick R says:

    Giel, I would just like to say that I come to this issue not because of a passion for trains but because of an interest in improving the quality and functionality of our growing urban centres. And the more I look the more it is clear than the the autodependency of the nation is the biggest cause of the poor urban form and poor international competitiveness of these centres, especially Auckland. This has put me in a position that is diametrically opposed to the stated aims and actions of the whole current administration. Including ACT.

    It is only because they are doing stupid things that I criticise them… I have no idea if they are stupid or not. I’m pretty sure, in fact, that Joyce is a very smart guy. It does seem clear that they have a fairly narrow and especially retrospective view of the challenges facing the nation. They also have that very business only focus: a narrow cost accountant’s miserablism. [Muldoon was a cost accountant: RoNS is like a less ambitious Think Big.]

    I also worry that they operate in a bit of a sound chamber; only considering assenting voices. If so, despite current polling, this will ultimately do them in, as they will not see opposition building.

    I too am the member of no party, and still think Cullen was just as wrong as these guys about transport.

  37. Giel says:

    Patrick R  - Understand your views. I agree with you if they don’t get with the play they will get left behind in due course but the process of change as you know is like four steps forward and three back sometimes but there is progress. Look how far we have come in ten years - When I look back I am always encouraged by that. We just have to keep the pressure up and we will get there. 

    People like  Mike Lee ( a bit of the old mayor Robbie revived), Len Brown, amongst many others (some not so publicly) going back a decade or more have made / are making a real big impact. Momentum for PT in Auckland is now so hard to stop that to try and stop it would be political suicide, if not immediate, certainly in a few short years. Deep down I think Mr Joyce knows that, even if he won’t always say so. If nothing else when push comes to shove this Government whatever your view does seem pragmatic.  Key is quite smart in that regard. Could be interesting election this year. Labour could do it but they just don’t sound convincing enough yet.  New Zealanders seem quite centrist in their views and generally seem to vote where the best competence is at a period in time. Sometimes Labour sometimes National - sometimes just a refresh or change is required but they will not put up with major backward steps so in my view continual large investment in PT is here to stay. We shall see I guess.


Leave a Comment


XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>