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Labour's transport policy builds on certainty

Labour's transport policy builds on certainty, says King

Sustainable and efficient transport policies are built on planning and certainty, not on half-baked and poorly-considered political wish lists, Transport Minister Annette King said today.

Releasing the Labour Party's election policy on transport, A sustainable and efficient transport system for New Zealand, Ms King said: "We have already set out what we are going to do for the next six years. (see http://www.labour08.co.nz/)

"When we came into government in 1999, we inherited a transport policy that was more like a dried arrangement than a transport policy. Since then we have been working as hard as well possibly can to backfill the decade of infrastructure deficit that National bequeathed to us.

"I believe we have succeeded extraordinarily well around much of the country, and New Zealand can now look forward to a certain future in terms of roading, rail and public transport infrastructure development and funding."

Ms King said the lesson Labour had learned from the lack of achievement during the 1990s was that "you have got to have a strategy, you have got to have a plan, you have got to have actions to follow up on the plan, and you have got to have long-term certainty in terms of project funding.

"That's what we have done, and under the Government Policy Statement or GPS we can say with certainty that we will invest between $15.3 billion and $19.4 billion over the next six years on land transport alone, not including rail. That gives the sector the certainty it needs."

Ms King said that when projected spending on public transport and walking and cycling infrastructure is added in to the mix, then the annual spending Labour inherited in 1999 --- $850 million on roading and $41 million on public transport --- "begins to really look the chicken feed it was."

Certainty in transport is not just about investing money on infrastructure, Ms King said. "That's why people will also find in our policy detail on road safety, on sustainable transport, and on freight. Under the updated New Zealand Transport Strategy that we released this year we have set targets in all these areas.

"They are real, achievable targets, designed to move people and goods around New Zealand safely via an affordable, integrated, accessible and sustainable transport system. Labour does not just go out and say we will do this and do that --- like completing the Waikato expressway in 10 years --- without providing the detail about how it will be done. New Zealand deserves a world-class transport system, and the only way it will get it is through a strategic approach to planning. That is what Labour has delivered."

Ms King said that while projects were now planned well in advance, it was possible that, because of the global economic situation, other projects could be brought forward. "What Labour's policy offers is a minimum statement of what we intend to achieve. If other projects are to be brought forward, that will be decided in December."

The list of transport achievements in the past nine years was "quite staggering following a decade of conspicuous non-achievement," Ms King said. "I'm proud of much of what we have done, particularly in terms of achieving full dedication of all revenue from road users to land transport. National talked about doing that for years. We have done it. National won't say how it will pay for anything, other than by borrowing.

"The Government is also proud of the transport legislation it has passed, the long-term strategies it has put in place, the targets it has placed before New Zealanders, and the increased focus on moving freight by rail and shipping as well as by road. We have a vision for a sustainable and efficient transport system in New Zealand. National doesn't have a vision --- it has a secret agenda that will inevitably involve large-scale tolling.

"National's transport policy has consistently been road-centric. They never talk about walking or cycling or public transport. They certainly never talk about moving freight in any way other than by road."

Ms King said the Government was also pleased to have passed legislation enabling PPPs to be undertaken in New Zealand. "An announcement is now only days away on whether the Waterview Connection in Auckland will be undertaken using a public-private partnership. I understand officials are very close to completing the extra work I asked them to do, and I look forward to making an announcement as soon as possible."

Ms King says all New Zealanders use transport in their daily lives. "The challenge we face is to improve the ways we use it so that we cause as little damage to the environment as possible, and advance the country's economic development at the same time. Labour is committed to doing just that."

Transport policy available at: http://www.labour08.co.nz/

ENDS

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