ACT claims 'irresponsible spending' on cycling is driving up inflation

ACT has claimed the Government's "irresponsible spending" on transport options for cyclists is driving up inflation.

The right-wing party said on Tuesday papers released by the Government on Christmas Eve show $150 million has been set aside to spend on replacements for the scrapped $785 million bike bridge - far more than previous estimates. 

Last year, it was revealed $51 million was spent on the ghost SkyPath bridge, which polls show failed to win public support.

Simon Court, ACT transport spokesperson, said a previous business case for a potential bike ferry put the cost at $58 million - close to a third what the Cabinet paper reportedly allocates to a new bus or ferry service, including covering the sunk costs of the bridge.

"If the ferry costs $58 million, winding up the bridge cost $51 million, that’s $109 million," said Court. "Cabinet just signed off $150 million to cover it. What’s a casual extra $41 million between friends?

"[Finance Minister] Grant Roberston needs to explain, does he really think a bus or ferry is going to cost an extra $41 million, or is that sort of money just chump change to throw in just in case?"

The Cabinet papers reportedly show the Government is looking at a mix of transport projects to help cyclists and pedestrians get across the harbour, including buses and ferries. 

"In typical fashion the 'most open and transparent government ever' quietly put this information on its website on Christmas Eve, hoping it would fly under the radar - but there’s no way taxpayers will allow this to be water under the bridge," said Court, calling the bridge "one of the dumbest ideas Labour has ever had". 

"Inflation is at 4.9 percent. The cost of groceries, petrol and almost everything is up. It's no wonder when the Government pumps $150 million into the economy that doesn’t contribute to anything."

Newshub has contacted Transport Minister Michael Wood for a response. 

The New Zealand Transport Agency (Waka Kotahi) has refused to open up part of the existing bridge to cyclists. A protest in May saw about 1000 cyclists take over two lanes of the 62-year-old bridge. 

Wood said in October he had asked Waka Kotahi to allow a cycling trial in summer when it was quiet, which didn't happen. Activists have threatened legal action if Waka Kotahi continues to hold out, saying the Government should revisit its decision to scrap SkyPath if the harbour bridge remains a no-go.