12 Dec 2019

'Paralysis by analysis': Winston Peters' assessment of the delay over Northport

6:38 pm on 12 December 2019

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has challenged his Cabinet colleagues for the delay over a Northport decision, criticising it as "paralysis by analysis".

Port of Auckland and Auckland CBD.

Auckland's Port and the city's central business district. Photo: Unsplash / Tim Marshall

A forthright report, released this morning, has recommended moving Auckland's freight operations to Northland, but Cabinet ministers have put off a final decision until the first half of next year, requesting more work be done first.

The report was carried out by a working group - chaired by former Far North mayor Wayne Brown - as part of a commitment secured by NZ First during its coalition negotiations with Labour.

Mr Peters - who's also deputy prime minister - told media at Parliament he'd like to press ahead with the plan right away.

"The fact is when you're faced with inevitability, then you should act then," he said.

"There have already been 17 reports on the matter and I don't think [the delay is] anything other than what Norm Kirk would call 'paralysis by analysis'."

Speaking to reporters, Mr Peters further bemoaned the time the decision-making process was taking.

"What would you do if [former Singapore Prime Minister] Lee Kuan Yew was here - or if this was Taiwan or, dare I say it, China? They'd get on with it and do it in the interests of the economy and people. Not stand around, staring at the curtains, so to speak."

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Deputy Prime Minister and NZ First leader Winston Peters. Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

Mr Lee governed Singapore for more than three decades, overseeing its development into an economic powerhouse. But he also drew criticism for his autocratic style and curtailing of civil liberties in the process.

Earlier in the week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed it was "not viable" for the North Island's main port to remain in Auckland, but said questions remained over where to move it and when.

Mr Peters said he would continue to work "collegially" and was "very convinced" he could persuade Labour MPs Northport was the only sensible option.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford declined to comment specifically on Mr Peters' position: "He's perfectly entitled to express his views".

However, he said there had been some "quite incorrect reporting" suggesting some Labour MPs were opposed to the project.

"Nothing actually could be further from the truth," Mr Twyford said.

"We just believe that such a mammoth infrastructure decision, such a huge cost and investment... that requires really credible analysis and evidence to support it."

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