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LTMB - Third Reading – Jeanette Fitsimmons Speech

Greens Co-Leader Jeanette Fitsimmons Speech
Land Transport Management Bill – third reading

The Greens welcome the passing of this bill and celebrate 2 years of collaborative work with Labour to bring it about. It heralds a sea change in transport planning and direction. It is a move to a balanced, multi-modal system that matches each transport mode to its best use, respects people and the environment, and addresses transport demand as well as supply.

I want to thank and congratulate the previous minister Mark Gosche for his early work on the Strategy and the Bill and the present minister Paul Swain for seeing the job through so ably.I want to thank Helen Duncan for her excellent chairing of the elect committee. I also want to thank the officials who have been so helpful on the way through.

Let me go back to the beginning.

In late 2001 it was clear that more money was needed in the Land Transport Fund if we were to address a serious lack of choice in transport options: a serious overloading of the roading infrastructure, a wasteful underuse of rail, and a frustrating non-existence of effective public transport and facilities for cyclists and pedestrians. Labour proposed a 4 cent increase in the petrol levy and every party voted against it – except the Greens. Yes, all those parties who have grizzled all this week about lack of funding for transport refused to support the funding increase.

The Greens accepted the responsibility of funding a decent transport system, but on condition that funding was spread in a balanced way across modes and the decision making system reflected modern criteria of social good. The first step was the NZ Land Transport Strategy which clarifies where we are now going as a country; the second is this Bill which implements our agreement to change the objectives of Transfund, Transit and local authorities.

The new criteria for transport funding will take us gradually towards a sustainable transport system that can survive the huge shocks that are in store for us very soon. Nothing less will ensure the survival of our cities, our commerce, our economy which are currently running on near empty.

All major oil companies now recognise that world oil production has peaked or is close to peaking. Estimates of when the decline begins – and that is when price begins to rise steeply – vary from 5 to 20 years. What we do know is that we are currently finding 1 barrel of oil for every four we burn. That is, of course, why the US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan and may well continue to invade middle eastern countries where most of the remaining oil is – hopefully without Nz support.

The era of cheap oil has made it possible for a short moment in history for each individual in a few rich countries to carry a tonne of metal with them whenever they move. It was never logical and it will not be possible for much longer. Cars will remain a big part of the transport scene for a long time yet but we must start to use them more sensibly and develop the alternatives or face a future where we can no longer move around.

Driving the same necessity is the effect of all the oil we have burned so far, accumulating exhaust emissions in the atmosphere and starting to change the climate. Two sides of the same coin: resource pollution and depletion. Two overwhelming reasons why this shift in direction has to start.

Add to that another reason: road crashes are the main cause of death for children under 15. Reduce the total miles travelled by car and those deaths will reduce too.

So this bill adopts bold new objectives. An integrated transport system where you can make connections between cars, trains, buses, ferries, cycles. Where each mode is used to its best purpose. A safe transport service which notices the vulnerable – the children, the pedestrians, the elderly, even, dare I say it, the slow.A responsive system that replaces a rigid cost benefit calculation based on untestable assumptions with an approach that meets needs where they are greatest and involves people in the planning. A sustainable system that requires road builders to take care when crossing fragile ecosystems and avoid the siltation, pollution and habitat destruction that so often goes with road building.

Substantial new funding has been going into the Land Transport Fund since April last year, and to make sure that it is used for projects that meet the new criteria, Transit is reviewing the major projeects approved under the previous rules.

We have heard some entertaining polemics in the debate this week.

We’ve heard Roger Sowry complain bitterly about congestion, then say he wants to see more traffic on the roads. He is utterly opposed to finding ways to reduce traffic but wants to see more of it. How many hours a day does he want to spend driving?

We’ve heard constant demands for “efficiency” to be put into the bill – despite the fact that it is there already in several places including the purpose clause. We’ve heard Larry Baldock bravely try to define efficiency when no-one else could, and he told us it means efficiency! Well that’s helpful. Then he said it means moving people around without delay. I don’t think economists will agree that is efficiency – that is effectiveness, and it’s already in the bill.

We’ve heard Lockwood Smith declaiming against responsibility, especially social and environmental responsibiity. He just wants roads – irresponsible roads. The more irresponsible the better!

Then Maurice Williamson – and he does know something about transport but his prejudices always get in the way. He says you just can’t get people out of their cars. Well he needs to let the facts get in the way of his prejudices. The last three years, with modest increase in funding and therefore service and frequency, we have seen a 25% increase in the use of PT. It’s sinple really – if it isn’t there you can’t use it and the figures prove that if it is there, people will.

ARTNL has just announced the next phase of the Auckland rail upgrade and a business plan to increase petronage from 2.5 million trips a year to more than 20 million.

I had the good furtune yesterday to meet Jaime Lerner, the famous mayor of Curitiba, the Brazilian city that has grown from 600,000 people to 1.8 million and its transport system still works. That’s because public transport passenger trips have gone from 20,000 a day to 2 million! If they can do it, we can.

We’ve heard Peter Brown say we need more fuel tax to fund roads instead of tolls – yet when we did exactly that, his party wouldn’t vote for it!

And we’ve heard constant complaints that some of the current tax on petrol goes into general revenue rather than the land transport fund.

Well, as I pointed out in question time today, the latest round of petrol tax makes that better because for the first time none of it goes into general revenue. The proportion of petrol tax going into transport has just increased and the opposition still doesn’t support it.

There is a particular knid of fury that erupts whenever the dominance of the car over our lives is challneged. We have seen a lot of it this week.

So I’d like to sum up with a possibly politically ncorrect quote from Mayor Jaime Lerner of Curitiba. Mother-in-law jokes are very non PC but I feel comfortable quoting it because I am my self a motherin law and I know my daughter in law and I would agree on the sentiment. He said: “The car is like your mother in law. You have to maintain a good relationship with her, but you should never let her run your life”.


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