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National's plan for Auckland roads

Don Brash MP National Party Leader

05 September 2005

National's plan for Auckland roads

National Party Leader Don Brash says the next National Government will put roading in Auckland on the fast track with a comprehensive plan to get the city moving again.

Having considered its response to a challenge to all political parties from the Business Forum, National is today setting an eight-year target to complete Auckland's base roading network (as defined below).

"There are three components to our plan: a long-term commitment to fund roads to the full extent of petrol excise taxes, the political determination to fix the problem and the right legislative framework to make it happen.

"National is not satisfied with the pace of progress at present. We have to get serious about Auckland roading. Labour's pre-election roading announcements haven't fooled anyone, while the Greens have publicly opposed the completion of State Highway 20.

"Virtually all the commentators accept that congestion in the Auckland network alone costs somewhere in the region of $1 billion per year. The congestion on Auckland's roads is worse than in Sydney or Melbourne. If we fail to deal with this situation, we will fail to reach our growth potential," says Dr Brash.

National will: o Within eight years complete the Western Ring Route - an alternative SH1-to-SH1 route between Manukau City and North Shore City via Auckland City and Waitakere City by way of a seamless SH20, SH16 and SH18 4-lane motorway corridor; i.e. no intersections and no traffic lights.

- Within eight years complete the Harbour Bridge to City (HBTC) and Newmarket Viaduct projects - two projects needed to complete current upgrading underway in Spaghetti Junction on SH1.

- Fund the shortfall between the current Transit allocation and the required allocation (Est - $720 million) through committing funds to the full extent of the petrol excise tax to the National Land Transport Fund. This will provide an extra $4.5 billion for roading over the next ten years.

- Introduce a substantial RMA amendment bill within three months and pass it within nine months of being elected. We will introduce mechanisms to prevent vexatious and frivolous objections, allow for direct referral to the Environment Court, and rewrite those parts of the Act that are inconsistent with our commitment to having one law for all.

- Simplify the Land Transport Management Act, so it is not a major impediment to road construction. Currently, it imposes narrow limits on private sector participation, and very onerous obligations on Transit NZ to consult with iwi. We will be able to double the amount of funding available for road construction by making it easier for the private sector to become involved.

- Simplify the Building Act. Labour's new Building Act makes road building more difficult and bureaucratic because rather than Transit needing a single consent to build a new road, they need dozens. Take the extension of Highway 20 from Hillsborough Rd to Richardson St in Auckland: Transit has had to withdraw its building consent for this project, and instead apply for 39 separate consents. These are in addition to the 17 resource consents granted under the RMA.

- Streamline the bureaucracy. Within a year of being elected, we will have a land transport management structure capable of carrying out more sophisticated analysis of costs and benefits, and with wider funding options to move projects from the drawing board to construction in no more than 12 months. The bureaucratic streamlining will start in Auckland, where we will establish a stand-alone, single agency - Transport Auckland - to oversee all parts of the public transport system.

- Appoint a Minister of Infrastructure to oversee and help push through vital infrastructure development. The Minister will take a proactive role in ensuring departments and ministers in areas like transport, energy, communications, building issues, environment, railways and airways are co-ordinating their efforts to ensure efficiency and value for money.

National also acknowledges there are high priorities elsewhere in New Zealand including in Wellington, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty and they will not be disadvantaged by our proposals for Auckland.

ENDS

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