Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Even more of your money on "infrastructure"

Yep the Nats are going to spend more, following on from last week's US$484 million of "fast tracked" projects, according to Stuff.

It's your money to be used to subsidise these projects, and it basically means money to subsidise the internet, roads (given all fuel tax is already dedicated to other projects), prisons, schools and to insulate state houses.

So what to think of that?

$1.5 billion for broadband. Given that the private sector has so far built three national mobile phone networks without a cent of taxpayers’ money, why should you be forced to pay to subsidise other people’s internet access, just because they don’t live in Wellington or Christchurch (where there are parallel networks). How about removing barriers to investment in telecommunications infrastructure? How about cutting company tax to make returns more lucrative? No – pork for the relatively well heeled. The talk of broadband facilitating business is usually not shared with the fact that broadband is also extensively used for entertainment. THIS is National's new Think Big - and those who rejected the last one are happily cheering this on - without seeing the irony that destroying Telecom's property rights under Labour probably hindered development of new telecommunications infrastructure more than any other recent government measure.

$200-300 million for a new prison? Well at that cost it better be good, especially when you have a 50% range on the price! This is core state business, but I do wonder how much capacity could be saved by addressing victimless crimes.

Waikato expressway? Basically, there are seven segments of the expressway that haven’t been built. Of them, three are definitely worth progressing, the others aren’t.
- Longswamp to Te Kauwhata is partly complete, and isn't a safety or congestion concern.
- Rangiriri bypass is worth building to remove through traffic from that village.
- Huntly bypass is exhorbitantly expensive, over $400 million for a steep hilly highway over Taupiri Hill. Not worth building at present.
- Ngaruawahia bypass is well worth building, as it shortens distance, journey time, improves safety and can link with the improvements at Te Rapa and west of Hamilton.
- Hamilton (east) bypass is over half a billion dollars and hardly worth building at present, when much needs to be spent on the existing Hamilton (west) bypass. Last segment that should be built.
- Tamahere to Cambridge four laning is worth building to improve safety between Cambridge and Hamilton.
- Cambridge bypass is well worth building as a two lane highway with passing lanes for now, to relieve the rather nice town of Cambridge from heavy traffic

Central Tauranga Corridor? Good project, Tauranga has significant congestion on roads ill equipped to perform arterial functions, though again why general taxpayers should pay is beyond me.

More school building? Well let’s pour money into infrastructure for a centrally planned, bureaucratically driven system then. The core problem is simply ignored.

Insulation of state houses? Assuming they are sold, it would be fine, if it would recover more in rent. However, we all know this is a subsidy for those with housing provided by nanny. Market rentals would help, but we know THAT wont happen.

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