In a way the argument for the project is even simpler, though this piece is excellent.
Here's my short argument for the project:
"Over the next 30 years Auckland's population is estimated to increase by close to a million people. The rest of the country's increase will be less than half a million. Auckland's roading system struggles to cope with existing flows and is pretty much built out once the current motorway projects are finished.
But there is one part of Auckland's transport infrastructure with tremendous unused capacity: the rail network. With patronage growing by around 20% a year, rail is playing an increasingly important role in Auckland's transport system. However, as all the line currently converge on a two track tunnel into Britomart, the ability for the rail network to keep growing in use is limited by this bottleneck.
The City Rail Link gets rid of the bottleneck, allowing us to extract full value from our current investment in rail and enabling much better train frequencies throughout the network. This allows further future growth of the rail system, faster trips from the south and west, better access to all the city centre. In short it allows Auckland to keep growing without placing more pressure on the road network."
I could keep going and going, but that'll do for now.
The biggest cause for the whole problem seems, from my perspective, to have been the inability of ATEED to tell Auckland Transport (and, I suppose, equally the inability of Auckland Transport to ask) that expected visitor numbers had at least doubled from what was anticipated.
ATEED opened much more space because they were expecting up to 160,000 people. Yet Auckland Transport was still going off a plan for 30,000-50,000 people - and for more than half of those to arrive downtown by car (which is a kind of weird expectation).
In the end, most of the fallout has ended up with Len Brown and the Council - which really begs the question of why bother with the CCOs to an extent. It's not like we saw any board members of ATEED or Auckland Transport speak up at today's meeting, or be in the media over the past few days.
Having attended today's Council meeting it certainly seemed that Doug McKay was just as shocked as Len Brown was when McCully made his announcements yesterday.
I wouldn't be surprised if McCully's own officials were surprised. After all they had clearly been working on solutions with the council for the past few days.
Another interesting thing Doug McKay seemed to be saying was that McCully's announcements don't really change anything. Council has been using the RWC legislation for months for events & licensing, they don't need to use it for transport matters.
There's a kind of glorious irony to situations like this because whatever BAT ask for, it seems like they're increasing the chance of it not happening, simply because BAT asked for it.
Maybe a good policymaking process for reducing smoking would be to dig through every submission BAT has ever made then do the opposite. Though at some point they'd click and perhaps submit the opposite to what they really want?
It's kind of like coming up with a good idea but then having ACT endorse it. You'd be going "no no no it's OK guys, you don't want to support this."
I was happily surprised by the tone of the editorial too. Clearly not a typical John Roughan piece, extolling the virtues of sprawl.
Perhaps Auckland's truly starting to realise it's a real city, and not just an overgrown town?
Isn't the main issue of the post the fact that there are very few affordable houses left in Christchurch for these people to move to - with the money that they get from the government?
I don't think people are asking to get a better place than they had before, they just want something done about the fact that there's nothing available at the same level as before. So the solution is to make available land (or ideally, houses - perhaps well designed rows of terraced houses to keep costs down).
From my understanding there is already a legal framework to get around problems like this - it's called the Public Works Act. It is obvious that new areas around Christchurch will need to develop in order to accommodate the population that is displaced by the earthquake - not just those in the red zone now but those in areas likely to become red zone in the future.
The problem seems to be the rapid appreciation of land upon which these people are supposed to shift to. This is obvious if you don't add houses - you simply can't accommodate thousands more people in the market without any additional supply, without prices skyrocketing.
My idea would be for CERA to designate areas around Christchurch - in strategic areas - for "earthquake relocation". There's an obvious public benefit there, so the designation process is appropriate. Change the law as someone said above so that CERA only needs to pay February 21 land values for the land - then they develop it and sell on to people in the red zones for something that approximates what their old house & land were worth.
As the land will have gone from rural to urban values, CERA should make a killing - but that "profit" would go into developing new infrastructure for these areas. New schools, new roads, new pipes and so forth.
Not only would this process ensure that people from within the red zone have an obvious option, the increased housing supply should control the property market so that people shifting elsewhere theoretically won't be priced out of the market.
On transport, it is so weird that Joyce's roads of national stupidity aren't being used to ridicule the govt at every opportunity.
Every time the govt says it's being prudent, where is the ridicule of the holiday highway or transmission gully: both of which have business cases that amount to flushing a billion bucks down the toilet.
Or the govt's next great transport priority: a motorway from Cambridge to Taupo. No I am not joking.
Rail was another big infrastructure winner, with $250m to go towards the KiwiRail turn-around plan, which aims to turn it into a self-sustaining freight business within 10 years.
Nothing new there though, it's just the second tranche of the KiwiRail turnaround plan that was agreed upon a couple of years ago.
The Wellington $88 million was a bit of a surprise. Rumour is that the new Matangi trains draw too much power from the system, which made the extra $88m essential to avoid the quarter billion spend on those trains from becoming money flushed down the toilet as they can't run.
One thing that's particularly interesting to look through is the estimations of taxation income over the next few years. Page 2 of this gives a good run down of this: http://www.treasury.govt.nz/budget/2011/estimates/est11sumtab.pdf
In 2007/2008 taxation income was $61b, but this declined to a low of $55b by 2009/2010, recovering to $58b in the 2011/2012 financial year.
The government estimates that this will start increasing dramatically to $66b by 2012/2013 and - amazingly - to $75b by 2014/2015. That's a $20b increase in tax take in 5 years, or 36%.
That seems pretty optimistic - and unlikely to cut the mustard with Don Brash in any post-election deal one would guess?