Auckland's importance to the national economy was stressed today by PM John Key and senior Cabinet Ministers.

Transport minister Simon Bridges highlighted just three areas of the city to show its importance.

"The Onehunga-Penrose area is the engine room of New Zealand's industrial and manufacturing economy and along with East Tamaki and Auckland Airport, employs over 130,000 people and generates $10 billion a year in GDP," Bridges said.

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His statement came at the same time Key made his state of the national address to the Chamber of Commerce, vowing to reform the Resource Management Act and free up Crown land to ease Auckland's housing crisis.

Mayor Len Brown welcomed Key's announcement to support the City Rail Link and said Auckland's economy was growing at an extra $3 billion a year.

Transport Minister Stephen Joyce also released a statement at the same time as Bridges, Key and Brown, announcing details of the reasons for the Government's support of the CRL.

"Today's announcement has been driven by strong growth in rail patronage and the need to provide investment certainty for large-scale developments in the CBD," Bridges' statement said.

He cited the planned $350 million NDG Auckland Centre at the corner of Elliot and Victoria Streets and the $681 million Commercial Bay tower to replace the Downtown Centre, owned by Precinct Properties NZ.

Bridges emphasised the speed of Auckland's growth.

The projected growth rates of Auckland - particularly Auckland Airport, Manukau City and East Tamai/Botany - will generate greater demand for crosscity east-west traffic.


That's why the project is a real priority for Auckland and the Government is committed to completing it as quickly as possible," he said of plans to bring forward the East-West Connection which will cost $1.25 billion to $1.85 billion.

That will link the South-Western Motorway or State Highway 20 to the Southern Motorway or State Highway 1.

He also summed up major projects including: completing the Western Ring Route by 2019, operning the $200 million Te Atatua and Lincoln interchanges in March, opening the $1.4 billion Waterview Connection early next year, ongoing construction of the $1.3 billion Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative, $268 million to upgrade parts of the Southern Motorway by late 2018, starting the Northern Motorway upgrade in 2018 and completing the Northern Busway Extension up to Albany.

In the next three years, $4.2 billion will be invested in transport in and around Auckland, Bridges said.