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Hodgson Speech: Building NZ's Transport Network

Pete Hodgson Speech: Building New Zealand's transport infrastructure

[Opening address to Transfund's launch of its 2004/05 National Land Transport Programme, Westpac Stadium, Wellington]

Today's announcement is the most significant transport announcement made by any government in decades. It is the culmination of years of work by the government, its agencies and many other people.

We are putting right more than a decade of underfunding and neglect in our road, rail and public transport infrastructure. This is essential for our future prosperity. A modern, sustainable and efficient transport infrastructure is vital for sustaining economic growth.

It marks the beginning of a new era for land transport in New Zealand.

It gives certainty to communities, business, contractors; to people who work in the transport sector and to those who would like to.

When we came into government the system was broken. Not enough money. No coherent policy. Inadequate law. No strategy at all. So we started at the beginning with the strategy released in 2002. Then we re-wrote the law in 2003. Then we increased the funding in several tranches with another coming next year. In effect we have doubled funding for the next ten years to $18.7 billion.

Notice how the multi-modal approach is beginning to take shape. Funding for all modes is up but funding for traffic demand management, rail and barging is almost double what it was last year.

We are investing a large amount in new roads, often to complete routes or to ease bottlenecks and congestion; but we are doing more than ever before to build our public transport base.

And I emphasise the multi-modal approach we are taking. All modes of surface transport, road, rail, buses, walking, cycling and barging must be seen as complementary. Just last week the go ahead for two more state highway projects in Auckland was announced. Both will have cycling and walkways built in, and include the groundwork for rail or busways.

More roads, alone, won't work any longer. We must provide convenient, attractive and affordable alternatives. The increase in funding is being matched by a change of thinking. We must reach for tomorrow's solutions, not yesterday's. And to achieve that, the Ministry, Transfund, Transit, regional and local government, businesses and communities must work together with imagination and alacrity.

Proper planning around delivery is essential. Transfund, Transit and the contractors have been working together to phase each new project. Transfund has also structured its forecast so the money is in place for major projects to be brought forward.

Working together in this way, we should be able to put the people in place on time to deliver on the programme over the long term. The sheer scale of this programme means the construction sector will have to significantly expand. Today's announcement gives it ample lead time to do so.

I'd like to congratulate Transfund staff for the work they have done in producing this programme. Transfund will measure its success on the number and type of projects built, the uptake of passenger transport, the safety and personal security of the system and the positive impact on the communities, businesses and regions which the system serves.

While I'm at it, I'd like to congratulate the authors of the other big document being released today – Transit's 10 year state highway plan. Every region sees significant change in their part of the network. From large motorway schemes to small safety projects. From a cycleway or walkway which over the next year Transit will build at a rate of one every 16 days, to passing lanes being built at a rate of one every nine days. From major to minor realignments or bypasses, Transit has produced a coherent and informed document.

The government's vision is for an affordable, integrated, safe, responsive and sustainable transport system by 2010. I am starting to believe we might just get there.

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