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National’s Auckland Policy Has No Meat

7 February 2002

“National’s ‘answer’ to Auckland’s traffic problems has no meat. It’s yet another policy release with no policy in it,” said Marian Hobbs and Judith Tizard.

“Almost all the problems with getting transport solutions to happen quickly in Auckland go directly back to the National Party’s nine years of underfunding and inaction,” said the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister with Auckland Issues, Judith Tizard.

“When Labour-Alliance came in to government in 1999, there were no major transport projects on the books, planned, funded or even being seriously discussed with communities and local councils that would solve Auckland’s problems.

“In this financial year, Transfund is spending a total of $188.5 million on transport in the Auckland region – that’s a ten percent increase on last year. Passenger transport funding is up by nearly 18 percent to $23.9 million.

“After two years in Opposition, the best they can come up with for a transport ‘policy’ is three suggestions. One of these – borrowing powers for Transit – is already a reality,” said Judith Tizard.

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said nine years of National Party underfunding of the Environment Court had created a backlog of cases.

"The only way to short circuit the RMA process is to cut people out of the process. What price democracy?" Marian Hobbs said.

“We don’t need more tinkering with the RMA. The Labour-Alliance Government has focused on the problems with the Environment Court.

“We are deeply concerned that urgent cases are taking up to six months to be heard, and we are working with the Department of Courts and the Ministry of Economic Development to resolve the issues around the speed at which the Environment Court can address the issues.

“We’ve put in $2.1 million to pay for more judges to get cases heard in the Environment Court. We are undertaking research into what further problems are in the Environment Court and we are working for concrete solutions to manage cases more effectively.”

Judith Tizard said the Labour-Alliance Government has always taken Auckland’s transport problems seriously.

“Transit and Transfund are working solidly on Auckland’s roading and passenger transport issues, we have just appointed Grant Kirby as Auckland’s Transport Advocate to oversee the planning, development and delivery of major projects in Auckland, and we have developed strong relationships with Auckland’s local bodies to address these issues.

“The National Party tried to destroy regional government in Auckland and took funding out of transport.

“It is outrageous for Bill English as a former Minister of Finance to suggest that there are any simple answers to problems which are a legacy of nine years of National Party underfunding and inaction,” said Judith Tizard.

Ends

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