Does Twyford have a single clue what is going on in his portfolios?

Phil Twyford seems to have no idea what is going on in his own portfolios.

He is asked about a specific road and goes on to talk about other roads before attacking Jami-Lee Ross over the very piece of road he was originally asked about. This is the transcript from Question Time:

Question No. 5—Transport

5. JAMI-LEE ROSS (National—Botany) to the Minister of Transport: Does he stand by all his statements on transport priorities for this Government?

PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Transport): Yes, in the context in which they were given.

Jami-Lee Ross: Does he stand by his statement that “no existing and funded roading project other than the East-West Link has been altered by the Government”?


Jami-Lee Ross: Why, then, has the procurement process for the Tauranga Northern Link been axed just this month?

PHIL TWYFORD: If the member wants to put that question down, I’m happy to get a specific response for him, but I stand by my statement: no existing roading project has been altered since the Government took office.

As you could see, Twyford was blindsided with that line of questioning. Asking for a written question is a standard delaying tactic for ministers unsure of themselves. Jami-Lee Ross continues his questioning:

Jami-Lee Ross: Is the Minister saying he knows nothing about the Tauranga Northern Link procurement process, where construction funding was granted in April 2016 for that project and the procurement process has now stopped; is he saying he knows nothing about that and he’s—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member finished his question some time ago.

PHIL TWYFORD: The member should know that the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) is responsible for administering hundreds of transport projects simultaneously around the country. If the member wants to put down a detailed question on a specific transport project, I’ll be happy to get him that information.

Todd Muller: Will the Minister commit to joining me to drive this road and see the danger and congestion as my community sees it, or will he continue to not reply to the community’s expectation to see him?

PHIL TWYFORD: Transport priorities are being reviewed in order to place greater emphasis on safety and value for money. The Tauranga eastern expressway, for example, cost $455 million and carries less than 20,000 vehicles on average daily. Yet across town, on State Highway 2 between Tauranga and Waihi, there were 63 deaths and 196 serious injuries over the past eight years. Our priorities will rebalance spending away from a few hand-picked, low-value, over-engineered expressways towards practical solutions that save lives.

In that interchange you saw Twyford actually speaking about the same piece of road that Todd Muller and Jami-lee Ross were asking about.

That same piece of road that has had its procurement process cancelled. Twyford has set himself up for a fall with that answer. In a few short weeks he is going to have to admit that by cancelling the procurement process he isn’t at all concerned about deaths on State Highway 2. We now get a patsy question from Michael Wood to assist Twyford as he flails all around the issues with grandiose yet confusing statements.

Michael Wood: Why is the Government reviewing transport priorities?

PHIL TWYFORD: Thank you for that question. The reason is this: because we can make some very deliberate choices in the way we spend our transport budget. For example, for about half the cost of National’s East-West Link, we could install median safety barriers on every single kilometre of the state highway network.

That was another potential trap for Twyford. He has claimed half the cost of a now-cancelled roading project. The costs of that project were calculated at $1.8 billion, so half of that is $900 million. Twyford is seriously stretching facts if he thinks that he could put a median barrier down the middle of the entire length of the 11,604km of the state highway network for around $900 million. That would only be achievable if the lower end of costs ($75 per metre) for flexible (wire) median barriers was used, instead of the top end costs ($150 per metre) and impossible with the costs for semi-rigid barriers being between $110-$220 per metre. The costs for rigid barriers would be eye-watering at $500-$800 per metre.

What is obvious, however, is that Phil Twyford does not understand his portfolio or what is going on inside it.

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