Judith Collins on National's vision for Auckland, transport and standing for Mayor

Judith Collins says she won't be running for Mayor of Auckland - yet.

In an extended interview with Newshub Nation, Ms Collins addressed speculation she would run.

"Lots of people have asked me to, which is terribly flattering," she says.

"I have thought long enough to say no. I've got other things to do and I'm really enjoying what I'm doing now."

Ms Collins -  National's Infrastructure, Planning and Urban Development spokesperson -  says she wants to see Auckland become a "vibrant, exciting place" with a combination of pedestrians, cycling and cars. However, she believes going vehicle-free in the CBD would be a bad move.

How Lower Queen St might look car-free.
How Lower Queen St might look car-free. Photo credit: Supplied.

"No matter what people think other people should do, if you've got a load of groceries or you're going shopping for anything, you'll probably want a car to put it in unless it's quite a small item," she says.

"If the CBD wants to be destroyed as a shopping destination then take out all the car parking because Aucklanders won't come. The tourists might, but Aucklanders won't."

Ms Collins also backs the idea of a downtown stadium, like the one proposed by the Auckland Waterfront Consortium for Bledisloe Wharf.

"I think it could be a really good thing, and if it was an innovative design such as the Sydney Opera House - that sort of iconic structure - it could become a tourist centre too - if it's done properly."

Auckland Waterfront Consortium stadium proposal
Auckland Waterfront Consortium stadium proposal Photo credit: Supplied.

On transport, Ms Collins believes the Government and Auckland Council should be focusing their investment on heavy rail, as National did with the City Rail Link, rather than constructing the proposed light rail lines to the Airport and Kumeu by 2028.

"We would have thought heavy rail from Puhinui would have been a better thing to do," she says.

"Taking an hour out from the CBD to the airport is not attractive. That's like peak hour, gridlock, in a car. In the meantime, all those businesses up Dominion Road end up being destroyed by all the construction work and there's huge disruption generally to people."

But she says National won't cancel the light rail projects if construction has already started by the time it next enters Government.

"I can't imagine a National Government ever doing what Phil Twyford did to the East West link - which was an incredibly stupid thing to do - where he just went and cancelled it. Even though all the contracts were set up and everyone was set up and it's desperately needed,"

"We're not the sort of party who goes and cancels contracts."

Proposed light rail routes.
Proposed light rail routes. Photo credit: Newshub.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford refused to be interviewed for Newshub Nation's story, however his press secretary provided a statement defending the decision to fund light rail.

"Light rail will dramatically reduce the amount of congestion on Auckland roads as it can carry the equivalent of four lanes of traffic," it says.  

"It's been proven internationally as the best way to retrofit cities with rapid transit without the need to demolish swathes of houses. In fact 75 cities around the world now have, or are building, light rail networks."

Former Transport Minister Simon Bridges said last year that light rail to the airport would eventually be needed, but may not be completed for another 30 years.

"National's belief that rapid transit isn't needed in Auckland until 2030 highlights how our biggest city was allowed to virtually grind to a halt," the statement from Mr Twyford's office says.

K Road as imagined by Auckland Council planners.
K Road as imagined by Auckland Council planners. Photo credit: Supplied.

While Ms Collins won't be standing for Mayor herself next year, she does hope there is a change of leadership in Auckland.  

"Hopefully we'll have a really good Mayor, that would be helpful, someone who gets things done," she says.  

"I'm so sick of being told what we can't do and why we should all feel guilty about breathing and getting around.

"I think, frankly, we just need a very exciting dynamic Mayor, but also a plan. You don't start making a cake unless you've got a recipe and it's the same thing with infrastructure."

Newshub Nation.

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