Last week we noted all the noise the National Party and ACT were generating about the Labour Government’s lack of progress in getting its vaunted “shovel ready” construction and infrastructure projects off the ground.
It appears the critics have aimed well on this, and indeed ‘implementation’ or the perceived lack of it is clearly emerging as a chief line of attack against the Ardern team. The host of spending promises in the new budget will add fuel to this fire.
And it’s not limited to the big billions around infrastructure. For example, mental health advocates and practitioners have been complaining they have yet to see the Government’s 2019 announced $1.9b increase in spending show up on the ground.
With regard to “shovel ready”, BayBuzz inquired of our local councils what funding they had been awarded and how much of that was now hitting the dirt.
Here are the results.
Collectively, our councils were awarded $35.4 million in Shovel Funds, and virtually all of this was allocated to the Regional Council ($19.2m) and the Hastings District Council ($13.5m).
In the case of HBRC, those funds will be spent on flood control for the Upper Tukituki, the Heretaunga Plains and the Wairoa River, and are matched by about $10m from the Council. Construction began in January on two of the projects; two others are still in the planning stage. Thus, out of the $35.4m awarded, only $1.6m has actually been spent.
In the case of HDC, one project has been completed – the $2m Tarbet Street Flaxmere housing project. Three other Flaxmere projects, awarded $11.5m have thus far only spent $275,000 on design.
Although requested, no explanation has been given by the two councils regarding the slow pace these numbers indicate. Maybe as taxpayers and ratepayers we should be grateful for very meticulous planning — measure twice, cut once! Maybe it’s a shortage of engineers, carpenters or consent staff. Who knows?
One can only wonder how fast ‘non-shovel ready projects’ progress.
Another $60.4m in Shovel Funds were awarded to non-council entities in Hawke’s Bay – HB Community Fitness Centre ($32m, Regional Aquatic Centre), Te Taiwhenua O Heretaunga ($2.5m, Flaxmere housing), Regional Indoor Sports & Events Centre ($6.4m, Pettigrew Green Arena expansion), and Te Mata Mushrooms ($19.5m, CHB expansion).
We’ll be checking up on those as well.