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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard



Question No. 1—Prime Minister

1. Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government’s policies and statements?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes.

Hon Simon Bridges: When will the Government begin construction on light rail in Auckland?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Like every person that understands both transport and business, when we have the forward costings organised, all the engineering reports, and all the alternative views are put on the table, then we will make a commercial decision.

Hon Simon Bridges: Will there be spades in the ground on light rail during this term of Parliament?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, we don’t build railways with spades on the ground any more.

Hon Simon Bridges: Will light rail be completed, as Jacinda Ardern previously promised, by 2021?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, who has conceded that possibly not by 2021—[Interruption] Well, I mean, if you’re the inheritors of nine years of nothing, then sometimes it takes a bit of time to wind things up. It’s not as quick as we hoped, but when we get all the reports in and they are either compelling in one way or the other, then we’ll make the right decision.

Hon Simon Bridges: If the project is completed by then, will the right honourable member join me in a running race down Dominion Road, or am I fairly safe in that prediction?

SPEAKER: No, no—it’s nothing but stupidity.

Hon Simon Bridges: What is the upper limit the Government is willing to pay to build the Government’s light rail project in Auckland?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Again, we have to wait for the costings to come in. It would be premature to give an answer now, but I want to make this very clear to the whole country: this Government is going to do its utmost to avoid the obscenity of someone, namely the Leader of the Opposition, running down Dominion Road in his underpants. If there was a race between him and me, I’d give him a 30-metre start.

SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order!

Hon Member: So that was OK?

SPEAKER: Well, I interrupted and stopped it, as I did the member. [Interruption] Well, frankly, the sight of either of the members doing that isn’t that edifying.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she have the full support of Cabinet to deliver light rail?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of Prime Minister, one of the blessed things about being the head of a coalition is that unity and full support is what she has had for the last two years and will have for the next year.

Hon Simon Bridges: Is she comfortable with a Canadian pension fund owning and operating the light rail project with rights over 99 years?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, there are a number of options that are on the table at this point in time; some of them are exploratory, and to come to a conclusion before you’ve had all the evidence is not what people with a sound business background do.

Hon Simon Bridges: Can she detail that sound business background?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, in the case of one of her colleagues, yes—as a lawyer, making more money in one month than the salary was for one year in Parliament, and that’s not what he could do when he was a lawyer.

Hon Simon Bridges: Was that in the 18 months he spent at Russell McVeagh?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: No; I did start at the best and biggest law firm in this country—that’s true. No—when I was running my own law firm.

SPEAKER: Order! I should have stopped the member at least two questions back. I apologise for being too kind to him.

Hon Simon Bridges: Was the Deputy Prime Minister right this week when he said that “Obviously, the connection to the airport will be heavy rail.”?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, all of the exploratory work is being done as we speak by railways and others—experts, so to speak—and when we have concluded that—

Hon Member: No idea.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Well, I tell you what I do have an idea on: not running railways into the ground like that administration did—running them into oblivion; Dargaville, up north, and all around this country—quite the converse. So the urban picture is as important to us as the rural picture, in terms of these future developments.

SPEAKER: I say to members that I do work relatively hard to have the Minister acting for the Prime Minister in the House sort of speak in the voice of the Prime Minister, but interjections like that make it quite hard.

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