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Mayoral Forum welcomes Govt's Christmas present


Auckland Mayoral Forum Chair's Statement - 'Mayoral Forum Chair welcomes Government's Christmas present'

The Auckland Mayoral Forum has welcomed a $1.62 billion Christmas present to Auckland to help solve its transport woes.

The Government announced today a funding package for Auckland amounting to $1.62 billion extra over the next 10 years, along with $1.35 billion over 10 years for the regions. It also proposed the formation of a new transport body for Auckland, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority.

Forum chair and Mayor of Rodney District, John Law, says the new money will make a difference to Auckland, create new jobs in the construction industry, and also assist the rest of the country.

"We congratulate the Government on responding to our call for new funding. We worked on this together. This is a great Christmas present for Auckland and for the rest of the country. It is a significant boost and a real long-term commitment to helping us get things moving in our region," he says.

Mayor Law says the new package reflects a move to a more user-pays system for funding transport. "This is a swing towards a more sustainable funding system that will help relieve the pressure and increasing reliance on using property rates to pay for transport," he says.

He says the Mayors recognise that Aucklanders want to see this new funding result in action on the ground and progress. "Auckland's transport problems are really holding our economy back and affecting our quality of life. Congestion is costing us and the country over a billion dollars a year," he says. "It's good to see transport money coming back to help transport."

"It's important that this new funding delivers results," he says. "We will need to show the public that this extra money is making a difference and being spent on making our transport system work better for them. I believe people won't mind paying more if they see it going directly to improving transport across the board. But there are still a lot of issues - the consenting process and buildability factors will affect how fast we can make progress too."

Mayor Law says the Mayoral Forum wants to see an integrated system with an emphasis on public transport improvements, travel demand management and accelerated roading on key strategic routes. The region's councils now need to consider the Government's proposal formally and respond in the New Year. All Auckland councils have scheduled special meetings in late January/early February to consider the offer and governance proposal, with a formal regional response expected to be agreed by February 10, 2004.

"We have a lot of detail to work through on this substantial funding offer now on the table. We also have a new transport governance proposal to consider. We all accept that change on that front has to happen.

"We will work together as a region to build a united response and keep the dialogue going as we work out the detail of the implications of this proposal and this new funding. On the governance front, we have to ensure we get it right this time."

Mayor Law says the Joint Officers Group (JOG) report provides a sound basis for proving the case for new funding. "That report shows that the Government hasn't delivered all the funding needed to accelerate improvements to the fullest extent so this may mean things will take longer to get done."

John Law says Auckand wants the Government to reconvene the JOG group to work through the governance proposals over the next few months.

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