Minister of Transport Phil Twyford and Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter today released a statement which provides information about the letter of 26 March 2019 concerning Let’s Get Wellington Moving. The statement was agreed with the Chief Ombudsman.
Phil Twyford said the Ombudsman’s decision confirms Ministers were correct to withhold the letter.
“In a coalition government we discuss all major policy decisions with our support parties, and Let’s Get Wellington Moving was no different.
“Successive Governments have recognised discussions on Cabinet decisions need to take place in confidence to ensure the best decision is made,” Phil Twyford said.
“We supported releasing a statement to put to rest the false speculation whipped up by opposition MPs about the letter’s contents,” Julie Anne Genter said.
On 21 March 2019, the Minister of Transport, Phil Twyford (the Minister), sent a Ministry of Transport briefing dated 20 March 2019 to Julie Anne Genter, the Associate Minister of Transport and Green Party spokesperson for transport.
Attached to the briefing was a draft of the Let’s Get Wellington Moving indicative package Cabinet Paper. The Ministry of Transport’s briefing sought the Minister’s consideration and feedback prior to cross-party consultation.
On 26 March 2019, Julie Anne Genter sent a letter to the Minister on ministerial letterhead and she signed in her capacity as Associate Minister.
The Associate Minister noted that she was providing her feedback on the draft prior to it going out for cross-party consultation.
The Associate Minister expressed views on the indicative package of investments outlined in the draft Cabinet paper. These regarded the alignment of the package with the goals of the Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme and the Government’s Policy Statement on Land Transport. The Associate Minister was concerned about inducing traffic and the resulting increased congestion, greenhouse gas emissions and undermining of demand for public transport. The Associate Minister was also concerned to ensure there was sufficient funding available for public transport.
The Associate Minister advised that she was comfortable supporting this package if a number of matters were clarified, including that the public transport, and walking and cycling components of the package would be completed as soon as practicably possible and that work on rapid transit be prioritised ahead of the second Mount Victoria tunnel.
The indicative package, ultimately approved by Cabinet, included this sequencing of the projects.
The letter did not issue any ultimatums nor threaten a resignation.