I was disappointed to read that all four of Northland's elected council leaders had used the opportunity of the Prime Minister's visit to push for the four-lane highway between Warkworth and Whangarei, expected to cost $2 billion-plus.
Is it the consensus of Northlanders that we want the Government to spend this much money on widening a road? When the equivalent amount could be used to upgrade and electrify Northland's existing railway line, including the additional track to Northport.
I'd suggest Northland won't get both, which is what the Prime Minister probably told our council leaders: it's either the highway or the railway.
And so I feel we need more debate about the merits of each before our elected leaders push for one over the other.
This Government wants to increase funding for rail at the expense of new roads.
It's seriously looking at an electrified network south of Auckland that connects Tauranga and Hamilton and all the towns in between.
A KiwiRail insider told the Listener that undertaking this work, and including Northland in the upgrade, would cost around $3.5b.
Expensive, yes, but no more than the asphalt highways that have greater ongoing maintenance costs. And in terms of future planning, it would be money better spent.
An expanded highway from Warkworth to Whangarei will not help reduce carbon emissions, which we're liable for under international agreements. And it's as if declining global oil production has been left out of the picture.
In 20 years, when the highway could expect to be completed, prices at the pump could be twice what they are now, or likely more.
This will severely impact the viability of car and truck transport, flipping the balance to rail as a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly way of transporting goods and people.
The only justifiable defence, then, of our council leaders pushing for the four-lane highway is faith in the future of electric vehicles.
But this doesn't stack up to scrutiny. It's impossible to power long-haul trucks with a battery. The battery would be prohibitively expensive and weigh more than the freight. The energy-to-weight ratio just doesn't work.
And having us all drive around in electric cars would put so much load on the electricity grid that we'd have to burn coal. Or otherwise, at massive cost, have windmills and solar panels the length and breadth of the country.
An electrified railway track, on the other hand, is accessing electricity directly, not through a battery, and is therefore less expensive.
What we need from our elected leaders in Northland is a sober vision of what declining fossil fuel usage combined with increasing energy costs will mean for the economy and our daily lives.
The best future-proofing, which balances present and future needs, is an electric rail network that links to buses, bikes and our own two feet. With a limited role for trucks and the privately owned car.
Forget the Hundertwasser, let's move on to a more important debate about Northland's future, one that will be equally passionate.