26 January 2002
Transit NZ has let an $11.5 million contract to build the Puhinui interchange on the Southern Motorway by 2003. It will form part of the future South-western Motorway (State Highway 20) link to State Highway 1, providing a key section of the western ring route and better airport access. Auckland Regional Council said in its fortnightly transport update Transit was close to finalising the shortlist of route options for connecting State Highway 20 from the Mt Roskill leg to the North-western Motorway, and expected to start public consultation on the shortlist in March.
Resource consent hearings on the Greenhithe & Hobsonville sections of the Upper Harbour Motorway (State Highway 18) were concluded this week. the ARC’s communication strategist, Jo Mackay, said resolution of the cycleway width still had to be resolved. Enabling works, involving a significant earthworks contract on the Greenhithe section at Ashby Place near the Albany Highway, will begin mid-February.
The first section of a 500m priority lane for the North Shore Busway, being built beside Esmonde Rd between the Assembly of God Church and the Northern Motorway, was opened this week. The next step is to widen the two bridges forming part of the priority lane by March. Hearings start on 4 February over the busway’s designations & resource consents. These cover the busway priority lane between Esmonde Rd and Constellation Drive; four bus stations at Constellation, Sunnynook, Westlake & Akoranga; and the new Esmonde Rd interchange. Transit hopes to go to the market soon with the first design contract for the Esmonde Rd interchange.
23 January 2002
The Reserve Bank left the official cash rate unchanged today at 4.75%. Reserve Bank governor Don Brash said the decision reflected a balancing of risks between “a domestic economy that seems rather more buoyant than we expected at the time of the November 2001 monetary policy statement and continuing weakness offshore.” He said the outlook in Japan was of particular concern. Commodity prices for New Zealand’s exports had fallen quite substantially, and earlier than expected. But he said consumer spending appeared more buoyant than expected previously, business investment seemed to be holding up better than expected, the housing market had strengthened in recent months, and the labour market remained relatively tight. As foreshadowed in November, CPI inflation for the year to March 2002 is likely to be well above 2%, which would become a concern if any resultant increase in inflation expectations were reflected in price and wage-setting behaviour.
21 January 2002
Act leader Richard Prebble, said in his Letter from Wellington today that Finance Minister Michael Cullen’s super fund, which was to be financed by government surpluses but is now all borrowed, has already started losing money. “The money will be invested in overseas equities. Act says this is as sensible as borrowing on your credit card to finance your retirement fundâ€¦ The Letter can reveal that Dr Cullen has already started to waste the fund. The latest government accounts show the finance minister has taken the $256 million set aside for the fund in the five months to 30 November, and invested it temporarily with the Treasury at the official cash rate of 4.75%. During the same five months, the government borrowed $549 million at 6.44%. The difference of 1.69% is what Dr Cullen is losing taxpayers on the fund. Act’s finance spokesman, Rodney Hide, has calculated the taxpayer is losing $83,200 a week on the deal.”