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Birch report an attack on public transport

Birch report an attack on public transport, environment

16 December 2001

Auckland Green MP Keith Locke today slammed the Birch report on Auckland City Council spending as "extreme New Right".

"It points back to the worst excesses of Rogernomics when social and environmental considerations didn't get a look-in," said Mr Locke.

"Birch's arguments to cancel the central city plans for rapid rail and a transport interchange simply fail to take into account the community benefit.

"The point is not whether light rail is "economic" in the short term, as Birch is worried about. A good rail network will certainly enable people to get around the city quickly, and also relieve traffic congestion.

"Nowhere does Mr Birch recognise the environmental benefits in reducing Aucklanders' dependence on car use. It is very odd that when New Zealand is in the process of ratifying Kyoto agreement to slow down global warming, Mr Birch is quite happy to encourage building more motorways and cars.

"Mr Birch also wants bus operators to pay for the cost of bus lanes and load these on the commuters, providing a disincentive for people to use buses."

Mr Locke said the report also takes the slasher to chemical free treatment of grass verges, organic and inorganic collections and tree protection.

"Pensioners, arts lovers, citizens advice bureaux and community organisations receiving grants will all suffer if the report's recommendations are implemented.

"The theme of the report is to provide more opportunities for private investors, with them replacing public investment in the airport, water provision and transport infrastructure.

"The report is a disaster and should be rejected," said Mr Locke.

ENDS

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