'Cynical' to describe infrastructure spend as election year slush fund - Grant Robertson

The Finance Minister says it would be "cynical" to describe the Government's $12 billion infrastructure spend on transport projects as an election year slush fund.

"I would say they were deeply cynical," Grant Robertson said on Wednesday, when taking questions on the Government's plans to boost the economy by injecting billions of borrowed dollars into capital investments.

National leader Simon Bridges says an election year slush fund is "exactly what it is".

The massive spend is apparently good to go. It includes an $8 billion investment into specific capital projects with a significant portion for roads and rail.

Robertson said it is $8 billion of "effectively shovel-ready projects that can be brought forward".

But there was not a peep from the Finance Minister about what the projects actually are. He's saving that news for election year.

"We have decided on the projects, but we are dotting the I's and crossing the T's."

Newshub understands that of the $6.8 billion on transport, at least $4.5 billion will be on roads - perhaps resurrecting some of National's proposed Roads of National Significance, projects considered urgent priorities for the state highway system.

National's finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith said he doubts the Government will be able to deliver on the projects.

National leader Simon Bridges flanked by National MPs Chris Bishop and Paul Goldsmith.
National leader Simon Bridges flanked by National MPs Chris Bishop and Paul Goldsmith. Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

"These guys are world-class at announcing stuff and they're third-rate at delivering... They haven't delivered in the year of delivery and now they're throwing money around."

As well as roads, the Government is promising a $300 million dollar fixer-upper fund for hospitals.

Another $300 million will go into regional infrastructure, $200 million to remove coal-fired burners from schools, hospitals and prisons, and $400 million was already allocated for school upgrades.

It's all a helpful distraction from the news of a $900 million dollar deficit.

"Labour's screwing up the economy,'' Bridges said. "In two short years they have gone from surpluses as far as the eye can see, into the red - it's unbelievable."

Newshub asked Robertson if tax cuts are off the table now that the Government is dealing with a $900 million deficit.

"Tax cuts have never been on or off the table," Robertson said.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is welcoming the big spend, saying it's critical to meet the growing population of New Zealand. 

"It is critical that we maintain the progress we have made over the past two years in investing in transport infrastructure to meet the needs of our growing population."

More details about the Government's current financial position can be read here.