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How much faith can we have in Transit's plan?

30 June 2005

Maurice Williamson National Party Transport Spokesman

How much faith can we have in Transit's 10-year plan?

National's Transport spokesman, Maurice Williamson, says he is very reluctant to unequivocally embrace Transit's 10-year State Highway plan, announced today.

"The problem is that in the past Transit has made many announcements about projects but the actual delivery turns out to be dramatically different.

"Take the SH20 Mt Roskill extension. Ever since 2000, Transit has been issuing press releases saying it is to start 'later this year'. The real clanger was a release on 31 October 2001 which said: 'Transit proposes to begin construction of the SH20: Mount Roskill Extension in September 2002. Construction will take around three years, with completion expected by May 2005'.

"Rather than being completed by May 2005 it hadn't even been started by then.

"In August last year, they put out a glossy brochure to every house in Auckland saying 'SH20 Mt Roskill extension to start later this year'. Again it did not start."

Mr Williamson says today's announcement says the project will start in the 2005-06 financial year, and that the Mt Albert extension and the Manukau Harbour Crossing 'could start' in 2009-10.

"Based on its track record, five years can easily be added to that timeframe. The blame for the delay lies solely at the feet of Labour, which has let the Greens have far too much say in legislation and funding priorities.

"Transit admits these delays have added to the cost of the projects. It says 'all indicative construction costs have risen by 11% to reflect this'.

"So, I am very guarded in making any comment. Transit will have do much better than its recent track record before they earn a tick from me."

Mr Williamson says Transit chairman David Stubbs uses glowing phrases like 'a record amount of funding for next year ($968 million) and for the next decade ($11 billion)'.

"It should be noted that the amount of money spent on roading in any year in the past 20 has been higher than the years preceding it.

"National's policy of moving all petrol tax to road funding makes an extra $4.5 billion available over the next decade, and will see projects like Auckland's Western Ring Road, SH20 and the Waikato Expressway completed within the 10-year time frame.

"Dr Cullen's 'windfall' of $500 million all going in one hit to roading won't go there. My colleague John key says that money is in dispute with the banks and may end up not even being available at all.

"Little progress will be made in rolling out much-needed roading until dramatic amendments are made to the Resource management Act. National will make significant amendments to it within nine months of being elected."

Mr Williamson says National will also radically amend Labour's Land Transport Management Act, which is the sort of legislation passed when there is no commitment to a rapid roll-out of new roading.

ENDS

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