PM ‘low-key’ on Hollyford

Laura Mills

Prime Minister John Key had only a tepid view of the Haast-Hollyford road proposal when questioned in Greymouth yesterday.
Mr Key was on the West Coast to announce the extension of the Government’s rural broadband initiative.
He was approached by Hollyford road proponent and former Westland mayor Durham Havill during the day-long visit. Mr Havill was initially asked to look at the road by another fbormer Westland mayor, Maureen Pugh, who is now running for National in the West Coast-Tasman electorate.
Later in the day, Mr Key, who is also Minister for Tourism, was asked during a media briefing if he supported the road, which has the backing of Chinese investors.
He said it had always been a very contentious issue. “In principle, from a tourism point of view I can understand the merits,” Mr Key said.
However, he quickly tempered that by noting there were “significant concerns” from environmentalists.
When asked his personal opinion, he said he did not have enough information: “I just know it’s challenging.”
Haast Hollyford Highway Ltd chairman Mr Havill gave Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce a confidential update on the project earlier in the month during a visit to Greymouth, together with a letter of support for the road signed by all three West Coast mayors and the chairman of the West Coast Regional Council. Mr Havill claimed that was a reflection of public opinion on the West Coast.
Yesterday, he handed a brochure on the southern road link to Mr Key during a stop-over at the Taramakau River bridge.