3. DAVID BENNETT (National—Hamilton East) to the Minister for Infrastructure: What progress has the Government made on its infrastructure programme?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Associate Minister for Infrastructure) on behalf of the Minister for Infrastructure: The Government is directly spending billions of dollars each year on improving infrastructure, and, with it, supporting thousands of jobs across the country. The latest example is the awarding, last week, of the $150 million contract for construction of the Ngāruawāhia section of the Waikato Expressway. Engineering works are expected to begin on site in September—about 3 years earlier than expected when a previous Government was involved. Construction of the Ngāruawāhia section will create up to 300 local jobs and, when completed, the Te Rapa and Ngāruawāhia sections together will provide a 20-kilometre long new northern entrance for the city of Hamilton.
David Bennett: How is the Waikato Expressway helping the regional economy?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Construction is already underway on the 7.5 kilometre Te Rapa link where 200 people currently are directly employed. In addition, there have already been over 1,100 contractors working on the project with tasks ranging from design and planning to construction and engineering. Once completed, the long-term economic benefits of the Waikato Expressway will be hugely important. It will bring the major cities of Auckland and Hamilton much closer together. The Government is committed to lifting productivity, creating jobs, and helping to get our goods to market more quickly.
Nikki Kaye: How does this fit into the Government’s wider improvements for infrastructure?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Work to unclog the arteries of our State highway network is just one aspect of the Government’s infrastructure investment. We are investing $7.5 billion in public amenities such as schools, State houses, hospitals, prisons, and ultra-fast broadband over 5 years. In addition, we are supporting KiwiRail through the $4.6 billion KiwiRail Turnaround Plan, and we have allocated $1.6 billion to metro rail improvements in Auckland and around $700 million to metro rail improvements in Wellington. Another important transport infrastructure investment was launched as late as yesterday, with the HOP card, an integrated ticket launched with the Associate Minister for Infrastructure’s help by Auckland Transport and the New Zealand Transport Agency. Integrated ticketing is great for consumers and will enable users to have faster and more convenient access to all public transport services.