Exclusive: Phil Twyford leaves officials scratching their heads over Auckland light rail

Newshub has obtained documents showing officials scratching their heads over exactly what the government wants to achieve with Auckland light rail. 

Briefings over a series of months show officials begging Transport Minister Phil Twyford to provide them with direction over the rail project so they can move it forward - and even by late July this year they still had no idea. It's a promise to Auckland nowhere near on track.

In April, officials even prepared a presentation for Twyford explaining 'why setting outcomes is important'. On the first slide, it said "we have no agreed outcomes currently" and the "Government position on outcomes essential to provide clear direction to design, delivery and implementation of light rail". 

But the presentation still didn't kick Twyford into gear. A briefing on July 23 later shows officials begging for direction, as they weigh up two very different proposals. 

It again says: "A key underpinning of the parallel process is to confirm the government's desired outcomes from the light rail project" and tells the minister that for NZTA and NZ Infra to be compared on a like for like basis he must provide both organisations "clarity on outcomes the government's seeking".

Twyford wouldn't be interviewed over these briefings. On Thursday he placed the blame for delays squarely at officials feet. 

"They dropped the ball and didn't do the job that they were asked to do," he told Newshub. 

The Minister's office is adamant their expectations haven't changed since they were announced last year.

Exclusive: Phil Twyford leaves officials scratching their heads over Auckland light rail
Photo credit: AT

They say officials were simply seeking clarification that the desired outcomes remained after the new proposal turned up, and this caused no delay to the project. 

But that doesn't explain the months worth of confusion outlined in these briefings.