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Govt can't keep deferring infrastructure questions

Hon Nick Smith National Party Energy Spokesman

27 April 2006

Govt can't keep deferring difficult infrastructure questions

New Zealand cannot go on deferring difficult decisions on major infrastructure upgrades, says National's Energy spokesman, Nick Smith.

He was responding to the Electricity Commission's draft decision to decline Transpower's proposal for a major electricity transmission upgrade into Auckland.

"Our energy and transport infrastructure is creaking under the pressure of growth but Labour keeps taking the short-term, easy option that will leave future generations with failing power and roading networks," says Dr Smith.

"Labour took the easy way out by rejecting Project Aqua, leaving us facing uncertain electricity supplies. The rejection of this major transmission upgrade now poses some very serious risks for the Auckland economy.

"The irony of today's decision is that it will make New Zealand more reliant on power generated from fossil fuels. A strong and reliable transmission system is essential if we are to give renewable energies like wind and hydro a chance.

"Today's decision is totally inconsistent with the Government's climate change and renewable energy policies.

"National is not committed to any particular route or technology but is of the view that New Zealand's electricity transmission system needs a major upgrade if we are to have security of supply.

"The bureaucratic structure under which these decisions are being made is a nonsense. Transpower says the upgrade is needed, the Electricity Commission decides what they can do, and the Commerce Commission decides what they can charge. This is a recipe for bureaucratic buck-passing if the lights go out.

"National wants a simplified system for major transmission decisions," says Dr Smith.

ENDS

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