Monday, April 20, 2020

Frank Newman: Straight Talk - The Green's black hole

The Greens want to spend $9 billion on a "high-spec" intercity commuter rail network between Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. See Press release >>>

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says the package would "provide meaningful work whilst driving us towards a sustainable, green, zero carbon future", and he described it as "transformational infrastructure stimulus package fit for the 21st century that has economic recovery and climate change front and centre".

What bollocks! What it will provide is a gaping black hole into which taxpayers will pour hundreds of millions of dollars annually to keep afloat. I won't go into cost specifics, it's so blatantly obvious. One does not need to look any further than the tortured financial history of KiwiRail to see that. According to the Taxpayers Union, KiwiRail has received more than $4 billion in handouts in the last decade or so, and goodness knows what the potential liability will be in the future.

Is there any rail network in a sparsely populated narrow and skinny country like ours that has ever paid its way? Perhaps the Greens can enlighten us if there is. The Greens will probably say that there is a financial cost to an economy where climate change is front and centre, but we already know what a carbon-free economy in the year 2020 is like - we just have to reflect on the economic destruction that has taken place during the Covid-19 lockdown.   

Rail is not an asset - it's a liability. And it's not a stimulus package, any more than spending money on people digging holes in the ground is. Stimulus money should be spent on work that will facilitate commerce and enhance the economy in the long-term, not destroy it, which is what the Greens are proposing.

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