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Clock ticking on transport bill


Clock ticking on transport bill

Time is running down for changes needed to the Land Transport Management Bill, says Business NZ.

Business NZ Chief Executive Simon Carlaw says the Bill has the potential to set back roading and so curtail economic growth.

"The Bill would remove the requirement for economic efficiency in roading provision, leading to a ballooning in costs and less investment in roads. Everyone acknowledges that roading constraints in Auckland and elsewhere are already harming economic growth - the Bill's provisions would make this worse.

"There are other significant problems with the Bill which Business NZ and other organisations have made constructive submissions on. The Bill is due to be reported back in Parliament early next month. We have written to the chairperson of the select committee considering the Bill in order to reinforce our serious concerns, and have decided to release the letter publicly because of the significance of the issue."

Attached Letter

8 August 2003

Ms Helen Duncan Chair of the Committee Transport & Industrial Relations Select Committee Parliament Buildings WELLINGTON

Dear Ms Duncan

LAND TRANSPORT MANAGEMENT BILL

With the Transport & Industrial Relations Select Committee required to report the Land Transport Management Bill back to the House by 8 September, business and road user organisations consider it essential to restate the critical importance of safe and efficient roading infrastructure to facilitate New Zealand’s economic growth and standard of living.

Without safe and efficient roading infrastructure it will not be possible to achieve the Government’s economic, social, and environmental goals. However, the Bill as it was introduced has serious shortcomings and we consider that it must be amended. In particular, economic efficiency must be restored as a key objective and the Bill’s provisions should facilitate rather than impede increased investment in roading infrastructure.

Members of the Committee will be well aware of the problems the organisations set out below have identified with the Bill, and we trust that members have carefully read and considered our constructive submissions that we have jointly and severally put to the Select Committee. In our opinion though, recent developments make it particularly urgent for the Bill’s shortcomings to be fixed.

The New Zealand economy is clearly faltering in the wake of international weakness and a stronger dollar. The Government has stated that it expects economic growth to fall from over 4% for 2002/03 to only around 2% for 2003/04. June exports are 14% lower than the same month last year and the domestic economy, which has to date been propped up by high immigration, is also beginning to slow. Moreover, there are reliable indicators of the ‘real economy’ that suggest even tougher times ahead – e.g., Road User Charges data (a reliable proxy for freight volumes) show a sharp slowdown in heavy truck activity in 2003.

Exacerbating the impact of the weak global economy, the New Zealand business community and road users are being asked to absorb a raft of costs that will impact hardest upon small and medium sized businesses: recent additions include significant increases in electricity, gas, petrol, diesel, ACC levies, and local body rates and user charges. Coming up is a review of the Employment Relations Act, the two Holidays Bills, and pay equity proposals, with all likely to add significant costs and impediments to business and their likelihood of retaining (let alone growing) jobs and employment opportunities. It remains difficult to rationalise these impacts with a growth strategy.

Meanwhile, a recent survey of business opinion by Infometrics for the Growth and Innovation Advisory Board has found transport infrastructure to be one of the most important constraints for business growth (see www.morst.govt.nz). Increased investment in roading infrastructure would address this constraint and also boost local economies, increase employment, and provide excellent longer-term returns for New Zealand.

Given the importance of safe and efficient roading infrastructure to facilitating economic growth, the Land Transport Management Bill must be a critical component of a credible, balanced growth strategy. Much remains to be done to make it so.

The text of this letter was developed with, and reflects the views of, the following organisations:

Federated Farmers of New Zealand National Association of Retail Grocers and Supermarkets of New Zealand New Zealand Automobile Association New Zealand Forest Owners Association New Zealand Grocery Marketers Association New Zealand Meat Industry Association New Zealand Pavement and Bitumen Contractors Association New Zealand Road Transport Forum New Zealand Taxi Federation

Yours sincerely

Simon Carlaw Chief Executive Business New Zealand

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