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Transit bombshell highlights Govt's failures

Don Brash MP - National Party Leader

22 February 2006

Transit bombshell highlights Govt's failures

Transit's $685 million funding gap for roading projects over the next 10 years - which promises to delay dozens of projects - highlights the Government's failure to manage the infrastructure crisis, says National Leader Don Brash.

The funding gap compared to the previous state highways forecast just six months ago is being blamed on rising construction costs and a revision downwards in the expected fuel tax take thanks to higher petrol prices.

"Transit is saying the impact of this funding gap will be felt nationwide. Projects are to be deferred and expenditure reduced," says Dr Brash.

"But roads are assets that will serve our communities for generations to come. The lack of such assets is costing us dearly. In Auckland, for example, the cost of inadequate roading infrastructure is estimated at more than $1 billion a year.

"It's madness to expect that these must be almost entirely funded through the current revenues contributed by today's drivers. The Government is doing some borrowing, but not enough.

"And it's madness to slow road construction down as Transit has announced it will do today because of a temporary slowdown in revenue due to current pressures on oil prices.

"In a world awash with cheap capital - for example, the Japanese uridashi bonds - it's just crazy that this Government is not using some of it to improve our infrastructure. There is nothing wrong with borrowing to build infrastructure that will last generations.

"We also need greater use of public-private partnerships.

"Amongst other benefits, these are far more effective at imposing underlying cost controls on projects - the lack of which is one of the major factors that have seen this funding gap develop in the first place.

"It is, in fact, a key responsibility of government, and this Labour Government is failing the test at every step through self-imposed roadblocks such as the RMA and funding constraints.

"If New Zealand governments in the first half of last century had had the same attitude, we would not have built a rail or road network.

"Roads are the arteries through which the economy's lifeblood flows. Labour is unnecessarily constricting that bloodflow.

"We'll never get anywhere near attaining Australia's living standards if this Labour-led Government keeps imposing self-inflicted roadblocks," says Dr Brash.


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