Short-Term Solutions to Long-Term Problems

In Carrier's Corner, February 20226 MinutesBy Blake NobleMarch 13, 2022

I’m sure I’m not alone in my frustration and disbelief at what seems like the permanent disposition of our public leaders to constantly underwhelm in the delivery (or frequently severely delayed delivery) of what should be long-term assets for our country.

Why are we fixated on applying short-term fixes to current issues rather than taking that courageous deep-dive and getting to the crux of what will genuinely deliver long- term benefit for our communities?

Roading and transport-related infrastructure is an obvious choice for me to discuss, given the nature of this publication and my own livelihood. However, think for a minute how great it would be if we could ringfence the current short-sightedness concerning transport infrastructure. Unfortunately, we’d have to overlook hospitals, schools, and the chronic housing supply for a start, and before long, we’d have a lengthy list. And how will we address the (stable) supply of electricity required to power our electric future without remaining reliant on that convenient supply of coal Indonesia’s so happy to keep us stocked up on?

Returning to the subject of transport… there appears a giant chasm between concept and reality, or government agency and government itself. There is no better example of this than in my own neck of the woods (Warkworth, north of Auckland), where we have a glaring example of this about to hit us head-on (hopefully, not literally). By the middle of this year, all going to plan, the NX2 Puhoi to Warkworth motorway will open, bringing with it a modern, four-lane expressway designed with the best intentions and safety in mind, albeit without any provision for a truck/ trailer combination to stop safely. This section will be superb, and I excitedly look forward to the benefits the road will bring from a transit time and efficiency perspective.

What I’m not looking forward to, however, is the fact that the next section of this NX2 project, cutely coined the ‘Holiday Highway’ (belittling the immense economic value traversing its asphalt daily to/from Northland), and having become somewhat of a political pawn, remains but a glimmer in a transport planner’s eye. The current government put the kybosh on the project early in its tenure. In the past four weeks alone, this Dome Valley section of State Highway 1 has been closed no less than four times due to major traffic accidents, grinding to a halt any big vehicles. But of greater concern is the carnage likely about to rear its head as Joe Public leaves the confines of the soon-to-be-opened first section of NX2 and finds his way onto what can politely be described as a glorified goat track.

Given the immense infrastructure, skill, personnel, and general resource in place in completing the current section of the expressway, surely there’s never going to be a more logical, cost-effective, or safe time to box on and finish the road in its entirety? But why deprive us of the opportunity to battle the road out politically and legally and add a casual 10-year delay (at best) into the mix? I ask the questions, ‘Why must we always be playing catchup?’ And not by weeks or months, but years and decades?

Elsewhere, we see a mass media campaign (including what sure sounds a lot like the fictitious use of a ‘truck driver’ to add some substance to the message) to reduce speed limits en masse to magically solve a safety issue within our roading network, particularly pronounced on the likes of the well-trodden stretch of SH5 joining Napier and Taupo. It seems almost unfathomable that, rather than get to the heart of the issue and take a long-term approach to resolving the construction and format of a key national highway, the powers that be instead opt for the most underwhelming of techniques to try and bring the nation to a halt in the hope of preventing the need to fix the underlying issue.

As if New Zealand’s productivity needed a further helping hand to slow it down, taking a 20% haircut off the speed limit is a sure-fire way to give it a sturdy shove in the wrong direction!

To my mind, it’s time for us to take key infrastructure beyond the realms of political chess and apply truly long-term thinking to long-term assets without fear of the next incoming council or government being able to take its eraser to the plan and wipe projects carte blanche, replacing them with poorly constructed pet projects (the Auckland Harbour Bridge cycleway ‘dream’ comes to mind).

As a nation, we simply can’t prosper without truly visionary leadership from leaders prepared to make courageous plans, with both the strength and support to execute them… now!

Do you agree with Blake or want to engage with his comment? He’d love to hear from you. Contact Blake at: