23 Mar 2011

PM warns Auckland of cautious spending

6:10 pm on 23 March 2011

Prime Minister John Key has warned Aucklanders gathered to discuss the city's ambitious long-term plans that the Christchurch earthquake means an austerity budget, with cautious spending ahead.

More than 400 political, business and community leaders are meeting to discuss a broad blueprint for the region over the next 30 years.

For Auckland mayor Len Brown, this means projects including a $2 billion central city rail loop and building a cross harbour rail link.

Mr Brown told the forum on Wednesday a first-class transport system must be implemented if Auckland is to achieve his goal of becoming the world's most liveable city.

Mr Brown says the suburban rail network must be completed and strong investment is needed in public transport and to complete the roading network.

Though the Prime Minister said the tough times would not stall projects like the Waterview Connection, he made no mention of the council's rail ambitions and stopped short of promising any further funding.

Mayor plays down differences over rail project

Transport Minister Steven Joyce says he has concerns about the business case for the central city rail loop, which Mr Brown says he is dedicated to having built over the next seven years.

However Mr Brown told Morning Report differences between the council and Government are being over-hyped.

He is confident the Government's concerns will be satisfied and the rail project will be delivered.

The council is required by law to work on a plan for the region for the next 20 to 30 years, made up of social economic and cultural plans. The plan is required to have the support of central government.

After consulting with the public, the Auckland Council is due to publish its blueprint by the end of the year.