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Investment on infrastructure asked of Budget

Investment on infrastructure asked of Budget

Australia's Budget got a round of applause from New Zealand business today. The Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) said business people on this side of the Tasman can't help admire the relentless, Australia-centric approach taken by Treasurer Peter Costello to growing the Australian economy.

"We have to envy the boldness of Australia's Budget," said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive.

"It's a Budget pitched for growth. We fervently hope ours is.

"Though New Zealand is enjoying surpluses far higher than Australia on a pre capita basis, Finance Minister Cullen has indicated nothing will be returned to tax payers.

"Like Walter Nash he feels safer salting the surplus away.

"Dr Cullen risks losing taxpayers money by putting money into the super fund rather than investing at home in rundown infrastructure offering extraordinarily high rates of return.

"New Zealanders' complacency over this suggests we are happy for our economic performance to remain subservient to Australia's.

"We would heartily welcome any evidence in the Budget to the contrary.

"For example, some of the surplus should be invested in improved roads, especially around Auckland. Over the past 14 years the benefit to cost ratio required before new roads were constructed meant they had to show a return on investment (ROI) of over 50 per cent.

"Upgrades of our roading infrastructure frequently show a return of 50 per cent a year, and in Auckland the completion of the motorway network would also save business $1 billion a year in the costs of congestion.

"Most of us would mortgage our homes to get such a deal.

"With such an investment on his doorstep, Dr Cullen's preference for sending part of the surplus overseas makes no sense."

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