Judith Collins says 'it's time for boldness' as she pledges $31b infrastructure spend, including second Auckland harbour crossing

National want to build a four-lane expressway from Whangārei to Tauranga, complete the Auckland Rapid Transit network and look into building a tunnel across Auckland's Harbour. 

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Ms Collins is also reiterating the promise to scrap the Auckland Regional Fuel tax and the RMA. Source: 1 NEWS

National's new leader Judith Collins released the party's upper North Island infrastructure plan today should it win the election this year. 

She also confirmed the party's promise to repeal the Auckland Regional Fuel tax and scrap the Resource Management Act. 

"This city is broken by congestion," Ms Collins said from Auckland.

"Every Aucklander and every visitor to Auckland knows it. Congestion costs Aucklanders over $1 billion per year. That’s the strict economic loss. It represents lost production, lost productivity, lost opportunity."

The plan is thought to cost $31 billion in the next 10 years, with over half going to the upper North Island. 

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Major projects include an additional Auckland Harbour crossing with at least one tunnel for road, rail and public transport and a four-lane expressway linking Whangārei and Tauranga. Source: 1 NEWS

The Upper North Island Transport Package's purpose "is to bring people together between the four cities of Whangārei, Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga; within those cities, most particularly Auckland; and across the Waitemata Harbour", Ms Collins said. 

"National will build a four-lane expressway network from Whangārei in the north to Tauranga, connecting 50 per cent of the country with high-quality and safe expressways."

"Second, we will complete the Auckland Rapid Transit network, including massive new investments in busways and our rail network.

"Third, we will build a second crossing across the Waitemata Harbour in Auckland."

Ms Collins said it would begin "immediately".

She said $300m would be pumped into projects in 2021 – "like fixing potholes, roundabouts, and crash corners".

Ms Collins said the total cost was estimated to be $31b for the next decade. 

"Around half of that – $17 billion – will go to today’s Upper North Island Transport Package for the half of the nation’s population who live here."

Seven billion dollars will come from the Government’s $20 billion Covid Fund and NZTA will be able to borrow $1b more a year and use $4b from fuel taxes and road user charges to pay for the debt. 

Ms Collins said there would be rail to the airport from Puhinui, starting in 2026, and then up to Onehunga, to create a rail loop. 

"National believes light rail will be to the 2020s what monorails were to the 1980s," she said. 

On the Auckland Harbour crossing, she said the single bridge and the West Auckland route "are not adequate".

However, Ms Collins was hesitant of going down the path of the Skypath 2. 

"I am not announcing today that Skypath 2 will certainly be cancelled. But, the likelihood is that we will want to work with the experts on a more cost-effective way for cyclists and pedestrians to get across the harbour.

"National’s plan is that the crossing should be a tunnel or tunnels. Our plan is that it should be for both road, rail and new public transport technologies that come on line. And, yes, the new tunnel will be tolled – but the existing bridge never will be."

The work would only begin in 2028. 

On the RMA, Ms Collins said it "has to stop". 

"That’s why I am making a very firm commitment that the National Government I lead will repeal the RMA altogether. It won’t be 'reformed' – it will go."

The Government launched the overhaul of the Resource Management Act (RMA) last year, saying its environmental outcomes were "disappointing" and it had contributed to the housing crisis. 

"We will replace it with two new pieces of law: an Environment Standards Act, setting our environmental bottom lines; and an Urban Planning and Development Act, giving clarity and consistency."

National's announcement had some "big holes" in it, according to Finance Minister Grant Robertson. 

He says National needs to come clean about what projects they would cut to fund their transport wish list. 

"The plan includes $6.2 billion in reallocation of existing projects from the current National Land Transport Fund, so National needs to say what projects it will cut," Mr Robertson said in a statement. 

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says "the proof is in National's past" as to whether the announcement would come to fruition should National get into Government. 

He says National closed "many railway lines, and ran railways into the ground last time they were in government," Mr Peters said in a statement. 

"While it is promising to see that National all of a sudden has rediscovered railways in Auckland, including trains to the airport and extending commuter trains to Huapai, the proof is in National’s past."