Communication, in various forms, was a common factor in three of the latest statements from the Beehive.
One of these – released in the names of the PM and two other ministers – declared that Jacinda Ardern has officially opened the Transmission Gully motorway, in time for the Easter break, school holidays, “and the return of tourists to New Zealand”.
Two other statements, dealing with digital-age technologies, advised us of –
- A new research project which aims to fast-track the delivery of a digital solution for farm environment plans.
- The latest data which records progress in improving internet connectivity for rural areas across the country.
Oh – and there was some stuff about Covid-19 and how to combat it.
The Government has launched a new targeted rural service of rapid antigen tests for those who live in remote rural areas. And new guidance for businesses and organisations to help them deal with upcoming changes to vaccination requirements has been released.
Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta popped up, too, with news she has signed a partnership statement.
Not a treaty partnership statement. This one strengthens this country’s relationship with Fiji.
The triumphant news about the new motorway was headed Transmission Gully officially ready to roll.
At Point of Order there was some quibbling by the staff pedant about this.
Were the PM and her colleagues portending an earthquake? Or serious engineering shortcomings?
More likely, they were saying the motorway is ready for the traffic to roll (as in “the car was rolling along the lane” rather than “the car rolled down into a ditch”).
Their statement emphasised the motorway will
- Shorten peak journeys by 7 to 15 minutes
- Carry 25,000 vehicles a day
- Improve productivity, saving travellers 1,640 hours a day across the network
But this was an occasion for the PM and her deputy to engage in political grandstanding as well as highlight the benefits:
“Projects like this will help New Zealand to bounce back better from COVID-19, which is why the Government is investing a record amount in infrastructure to reconnect New Zealanders, reduce emissions and support the economic recovery,” Jacinda Ardern said.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said Transmission Gully provided a safer and more reliable route to ensure Wellington remained connected in the event of an earthquake or major storm severing other transport routes.
And it would have economic benefits with faster movement of freight and more resilience in our transport links.
Then he was seized by an urge to more crassly score political brownie points:
“There have been lengthy delays to the opening of this road because of National’s botched Public Private Partnership.”
But whoa – we recall hearing of the project being delayed by the November 2016 Kaikōura earthquake, by Covid-19 and by the weather.
Storms had damaged incomplete stream diversion works and caused slips on some cut slopes. Those required repair, and in some cases they needed to redesign the permanent cut slopes.
We further recall reading that a project initially reported to involve the shifting of 6.5 million cubic metres of earthworks finished up shifting 11 million cubic metres.
But hey. Robertson (to coin a phrase) was on a roll:
“We have cleaned up their mess so commuters going in and out of Wellington will finally be able to use the alternative route.
“It’s important we learn from National’s mistakes, and we’ve asked the Infrastructure Commission Te Waihanga to revise New Zealand’s PPP guidance to make sure any future PPPs don’t encounter these same issues.
“Wellingtonians deserve proper answers as to why this road took so long to be completed, so we’re committed to undertaking another review to learn all the lessons from this debacle,” Grant Robertson said.
Actually, the whole country deserves proper answers.
And let’s note that whereas Robertson mentioned a “debacle”, Transport Minister Michael Wood – in the very next sentence of the press statement- said:
“… Transmission Gully is one of the most significant and complex new roading projects ever undertaken in New Zealand.
“The road spans 27 kilometres of very challenging terrain, requiring innovative environmental and construction techniques.
“What was a series of steep valleys, criss-crossed with streams, and flanked by inaccessible hills, is now a state-of-the-art motorway that crosses gullies, passes over waterways and winds through pristine native bush. Around two and a half million native trees and plants were planted as part of the project.”
Latest from the Beehive
The Government has launched a new targeted rural service of rapid antigen tests for those who live in remote rural areas.
New guidance to support businesses and organisations through the upcoming changes to vaccination requirements has been released today.
Community resilience and land management best-practice in South Canterbury will be bolstered through the Government’s backing of two farmer-led projects.
The Prime Minister has officially opened the Transmission Gully motorway, in time for the Easter break, school holidays, and the return of tourists to New Zealand.
I rongo, i kite hoki ngā uri o Ngāti Maru i te pānuitanga tuatoru o te Pire Whakataunga Kokoraho mō Ngāti Maru (Taranaki) i te whare pāremata i tēnei rā hei tohu i te whakamutunga o ngā iwi e waru o Taranaki kua eke ki tēnei pae whakahirahira i tā rātou tukanga whakatau i ngā take o mua e pā ana ki te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Fiji’s Prime Minister, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama and Aotearoa New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nanaia Mahuta met in Suva, today, signing the Duavata Partnership: Aotearoa Whenua Manapori o Whiti Tauaki Mahitahi, an expanded Statement of Partnership between the two countries.
Significant progress has been made in improving connectivity for rural areas across New Zealand figures released today show.
With a few clicks of the mouse, farmers and growers will be able to collate and share environmental compliance data, and build export value if a new research project is successful, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced.