Fresh calls for PM Jacinda Ardern to sack Transport Minister Phil Twyford have followed accusations the minister has misled Parliament.
Twyford is on record in Parliament as saying no one from the previous NZ Transport Agency Board asked to stay on before all were axed in September. Now he has conceded at least one board member did so.
National’s Chris Bishop says misleading Parliament is yet another nail in the very badly damaged coffin that has Phil Twyford’s name on it.
“He has repeatedly stood by his claim that all five NZTA board members walked willingly out the door. It wasn’t until media backed him into a corner that he admitted some were shown the exit”.
On TV news shows, Twyford is labelled a laughing stock, as they list his failures with KiwiBuild and the Auckland light rail project, two key Labour policies in its 2017 election programme.
As one authority put it,
“Twyford’s inability to deliver on the two big promises he was tasked with really leaves the Prime Minister with no option but to remove him from any meaningful portfolio, or out of Cabinet completely. He is single-handedly hurting Labour’s brand”.
But that’s why Opposition politicians are quietly praying that Ardern doesn’t sack Twyford. They want him to be the target of voters, particularly in Auckland, when casting their ballots next year.
Auckland is the region where Twyford’s bombast has turned the ministerial chant about “nine years of neglect” under the previous government into the kind of boomerang which could decapitate Labour candidates in several Auckland electorates.
On what was described to be a housing “crisis”, the achievement has been abysmal. House prices are still rising, rents are soaring, and there has been no legislation to free-up urban land markets, or to compel local authorities to operate a more liberal approach.
Then there was the commitment to have light rail up Dominion Road in Auckland by the time APEC rolled around in 2021. On present indications it won’t even be started. And Auckland’s congestion deepens.
The worry is that though Ardern stripped Twyford of his KiwiBuild responsibility she put him in charge of Economic Development. That has compounded the loss of business confidence and helped to put a lid on new investment.
Given the halt to most new road-building, a ban on most oil and gas exploration, and proposed new regulatory restrictions around water, the prognosis for economic development is gloomy enough without the Twyford wrecking ball coming its way.