Monday, 16 July 2012

I Started Something I Couldn't Finish

The Herald reports that $200 million or so has been spent on consultancy fees for the Roads of National Significance, with the underlying message that this is not a good use of public money.  James Henderson at The Standard picks up on the underlying message, and runs with it.  Both rely on quotes from Phil Twyford, Labour's Transport spokesperson and, from what the discussions we have had, a very good bloke.

I think the analysis is a bit shallow, although James Henderson does get some of it.

On my point of disagreement - good planning always pays off.  As such, I have no problem with money being spent on making sure we will do the right thing, and the right way.  If that involves spending $200 million, which is an eye-watering sum, then so be it.

As I see it:

  • the requirements to plan for roads and other major infrastructure can be enormous, and this is a crude way of making sure that projects that are a bad idea do not go ahead.
  • as a direct result of the point immediately above, and as noted by James Henderson, spending this much money on roads that should not and mostly will not be built is ridiculous.
  • the procurement model for planning and design services for roads is fundamentally flawed, in that in only allows for competition from within the private sector, when doing so (and exacerbating this by enforcing the same model for the construction) allows price gouging, can stifle competition, and reduces the control that the funder (that's you and me, via our government) has over the process.

The alarmist approach of saying "gosh, that's a lot of money" is overly simplistic.

The Smiths - Strangeways, Here We Come, 1987

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