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Highway plan sows seeds of dissent

Media release 1 July 2003

Highway plan sows seeds of dissent

Transit's state highway plan announced yesterday contains the seeds of future dissent, warns Business NZ.

Chief Executive Simon Carlaw says while the overall amounts announced for the next decade sound extremely large, in terms of specific annual needs they are not enough.

And he says the new objectives for road funding will set region against region, and politicise the funding process.

"The new objectives basically get rid of the national interest as a measuring stick. Without 'national interest' criteria, there's no objective basis for deciding between regions when the money's being allocated.

"Some regions have achieved more funding than initially flagged, because they have lobbied hard over the last month or so. Good for them - there's no doubt they desperately need it.

"But every region will now have to get political and get lobbying every year - what sort of process is that?

"The new objectives, as enshrined in the Land Transport Management Bill, cover things like environmental and social interests. They sound fine, but they don't help choose between regions' needs in an objective way and in the overall national interest.

"Transit said yesterday it would now have to review all the big projects against the new objectives. This is likely to mean that not all projects included in the list for funding will go ahead.

"Yesterday's announcement should make everyone pause and take a really hard look at the Land Transport Management Bill that's due to be passed this year. It will permanently politicise road funding and will continue the process of motorists being taxed to pay for things other than roads.

"Yesterday's funding announcement is more of a cynical lolly scramble than a strategic answer to our systemic roading problems," Mr Carlaw said.


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