National's mooted congestion-crushing $31 billion transport election policy has come under fire from Labour, which says the plan is full of fiscal holes.
Although the plan has been welcomed by infrastructure and contracting groups, the Auckland-centric policy has also been attacked by NZ First leader Winston Peters.
In her first major speech since taking the party's reins, new National leader Judith Collins said the policy would be "the biggest infrastructure programme in New Zealand's history".
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More than half of the $31b over 10 years, about $17b, would be spent on projects in the upper North Island, including Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Whangarei.
But the focus of the package is clearly Auckland – a city Collins said is a "collection of disconnected villages".
The other $14b, which has yet to be allocated to specific projects, will be spent on projects across the country.
Major promised projects include:
• A four-lane expressway from Whangarei to Tauranga (including tunnels under the Brynderwyn and Kaimai ranges) to be completed in 2040
• An additional Auckland Harbour crossing in the form of a tunnel for road, rail and public transport (work to start in 2028)
• A bus rapid transit from Onehunga to Auckland's CBD
• A rail link loop connecting Auckland Airport to Puhinui and Onehunga
• Upgrading Auckland's ferry services
• Building the Northwest Rapid Transit Bus Corridor
Collins said the significant spending package would fix Auckland and the upper North Island's congestion issues and transform the region into an "economic powerhouse".
National's plans have been welcomed by Civil Contractors NZ, which said it was good to see such a strong commitment to transport infrastructure.
Infrastructure New Zealand's chief executive Paul Blair was also optimistic.
"National's commitment to reforming planning and transport investment is welcome and, if supported by effective and timely delivery, could be transformational for New Zealand."
But National's plan comes with a hefty price tag.
National has ruled out any new fuel taxes and also promised that, if in Government, it would repeal the Auckland regional fuel tax.
A National Government would allow the NZ Transport Agency to borrow more money, plus $7b from the Covid-19 response package – announced by the current Government but close to $20 billion remains unallocated – will be used to fund the work.
The rest will come from future budgets.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson was quick to point out what he has described as "holes" in the plans.
And he is sceptical of National's commitment to transport projects, given he said the party left the country with "a load of ghost roads" last time it was in power.
Robertson said National's plan included $6.2b for projects already given the nod under the Land Transport Fund.
He called on National to outline exactly what projects it planned to cut.
Robertson was also critical of National's stance on Government debt.
National wants to cut New Zealand's debt to 30 per cent of GDP within 10 years – the Covid-19 recovery will increase debt levels to more than 50 per cent.
But NZTA's increased debt would not appear on the Government's balance sheet as it would be ring-fenced within the transport agency.
"National is in a shambles, and that is obvious when it comes to their contradictory position on debt," Robertson said.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said although it was good National had "rediscovered railways", the plans needed to be sped up.
"Why does National's airport train line have construction starting at 2030 – a decade from now? This project needs to start now, as it will take five to six years to build."
NZ First has blocked attempts by the Government to start work on light rail to the airport during this term.
Collins said yesterday that the Labour-led Government had still not delivered on its promised light rail project, calling it a "ghost train".
National's mooted four-lane expressway would connect Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga and would tunnel through the Brynderwyn and Kaimai ranges.
Collins said cars would pay a "small toll" to use the tunnel, and commercial vehicles would pay a bit more.
The additional Auckland Harbour crossing would be tolled as well.
"It will be New Zealand's biggest infrastructure project," she said, adding that the eight years it will take before work can begin was "ambitious", given the scale of the project.