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Dunne: Is Labour about to shaft Wellington?

Media statement

For immediate release

Friday, 1 July 2005

Dunne: Is Labour about to shaft Wellington?

Ohariu-Belmont MP and United Future leader Peter Dunne says if today’s front-page Dompost report about Wellington roading is accurate, then it would represent a gross betrayal of Wellington by the Labour-led Government.

The paper quotes Government sources as saying that the Government will announce next Tuesday it will make money available for a rail network upgrade and improvements to Centennial Highway along the Kapiti coast, but will not make any commitment towards building a motorway through Transmission Gully.

Mr Dunne said “The Government has said before it will go ahead with these plans provided the region’s mayors all agree on a common plan.

“The mayors are meeting on Monday and this will be their opportunity to show courage and leadership and tell the Government with one voice that the economic future of the entire Wellington-Kapiti-Wairarapa-Horowhenua region depends on a 21st century transport infrastructure.

“Widening the coastal highway will not achieve that outcome because it will be tied up for years getting all the necessary consents, since a realistic route will mean the destruction of the coastline and the disappearance of Ngati Toa Domain.

“And who knows how many taniwha are currently packing their bags to move to the Kapiti Coast as we speak?

“Even if the Government were to bulldoze the consents through, as I believe they are planning to do, widening the highway will still take years because it’s in an earthquake and flood-prone area.

“Meanwhile, the economic activity of the lower North Island will continue to be strangled because of a substandard transport infrastructure.

“If the DomPost is accurate, then I predict the backlash against Labour MP’s in the region will be considerable.

“I feel sorry for Labour MP’s Winnie Laban in Mana and Darren Hughes in Otaki whose political futures appear to have been sacrificed by their Cabinet colleagues in the interests of Labour’s wider aspirations.

“Wellington Cabinet Ministers Trevor Mallard, Paul Swain, Marion Hobbs and Annette King must take some of the responsibility if this disastrous short-term solution is agreed to, as it is intended solely to make Labour look like it’s doing something before the election and has nothing to do with a commonsense long-term solution to the lower North Island’s vital commercial and people transport links.”

ENDS

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