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Transport Strategy Won't Make The Boat Go Faster

4 July 2002

Business NZ strongly supports the call from the Road Transport Forum and the Automobile Association for the release of a draft New Zealand Transport Strategy, prepared by the Ministry of Transport.

Business NZ Chief Executive Simon Carlaw says the draft Strategy is unbalanced and fails to adequately recognise the importance of transport to facilitating economic growth.

"The reliable, cost effective, and timely movement of goods and people, both domestically and internationally, is critical for economic growth and development. New Zealand therefore needs a competitive and efficient transport system that will help achieve the Government's own goal of lifting New Zealand's per capita incomes back into the top half of the OECD.

"Unfortunately, this draft strategy document provides Business NZ with little indication that the benefits of an efficient transport system have been adequately recognised. Indeed, the flavour of the document is that transport, particularly road transport, is a 'bad thing' and that we have to reduce the use of transport.

"The major concerns to business from this radical change in transport policy are prohibitive cost increases for road users and continuing neglect of important roading projects. These will both ultimately impact on the competitiveness of the economy and its ability to grow and deliver the living standards we all want.

"Making road users pay more for pollution, for example, would make recent increases in petrol tax and road user charges pale into insignificance, while the strategy places social initiatives (such as promoting cycling and walking) ahead of investment in important roading priorities. At the very least, social projects should be funded out of general taxation - not be subsidised by road users.

"Business NZ has always said we will assess policies and programmes on whether they will help increase the country's rate of sustainable economic growth. It is disappointing that this important draft Strategy appears to fail the test - it won't make the boat go faster."


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