Hobson Article - March 2016

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

As 2016 begins I hope The Hobson readers have had a happy holiday season. It has been a calm and quiet period politically, which, looking around the world, is no bad thing. Kiwis have every reason to be confident that the overall direction of their country is positive.

I've written frequently in these columns about the need to respond to the challenges of growth in this booming city. Significant and sensible investment in infrastructure is required to keep us moving. Hence the investment in electric trains and the Waterview Connection, which will take so much airport traffic off the roads in Epsom.

So, naturally, I was very pleased with the summer announcement from the Prime Minister advancing work on two projects that will make a real difference to this part of the city.

First, the City Rail Link will stretch 3.4 km with stops planned at Karangahape Road and Aotea Square.  It will connect Britomart and the existing line at Mount Eden. It will cut an estimated 17 minutes from the trip between Henderson and downtown Auckland; fundamentally it will enable the system to cope with rapidly growing rail patronage. As Auckland continues to grow I am sure a lot of development will cluster along the rail corridors, which will help with the overall efficiency of the city.

Second, the Government also has plans to fast track the consent process for the East-West connection. This will provide a link between the Southern motorway, around Mount Wellington, and the Southwest motorway around Mangere Bridge. The Neilson Street area currently is a freight and traffic nightmare. When completed, the East-West connection will greatly improve access to and from the airport for the eastern suburbs.

Also dominating the news is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

It will be New Zealand’s biggest Free Trade Agreement (FTA), giving our exporters much better access to more than 800 million customers in 11 countries across Asia and the Pacific.

It’s our first FTA with the largest and third-largest economies in the world – the United States and Japan.

It will eliminate tariffs on 93 per cent of exports to our new FTA partners – the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Peru.

Successive New Zealand governments have worked hard to achieve this for 25 years. They knew it would help diversify and grow the economy.

So it really is unthinkable that any responsible government would now walk away from the TPP.

It will be positive for our country and for our future.

In uncertain economic times globally New Zealand must grasp every opportunity. Bold investments in infrastructure and our most significant trade agreement ever provided such opportunity. I'm proud to be a member of a government that is laying the foundation for future growth. As always, it is a privilege to work for you.