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Shock funding cut to coastal shipping

March 25, 2009

Shock funding cut to coastal shipping

The Government plans to cut almost all funding for coastal shipping from 2009, the Green Party has discovered.

"Sea freight is a key part of our transport infrastructure," said Green Maritime Transport spokesperson Sue Bradford today.

"National plans to throw this all away by removing funding for rail and sea freight development," Ms Bradford said in response to the Government's revised Policy Statement (GPS) released this week.

"A huge amount of work went in over the last few years in getting the Roadways to Waterways and Sea Change strategies under way. The gains are now all at risk."

The Sea Change strategy aimed to transform coastal shipping in New Zealand and double its share of the freight task to 30% by 2040, taking trucks off New Zealand's roads and making the country's freight infrastructure more sustainable. The previous Government had committed up to $179 million to develop sea and rail infrastructure through to 2019. National propose reducing this investment to between $8-13 million.

"Instead of helping Kiwi ships operate staffed with Kiwi seafarers, National are leaving them high and dry, without a plan to grow their share of the freight industry or the required investment to achieve it," Ms Bradford said.

"Even worse, National seems to neither know nor care that sea freight has the potential to make a huge contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and our reliance on foreign oil." Coastal shipping is the most energy efficient way to move freight around the country, producing only 14 grams of CO2 per tonne-kilometre compared with road at 92-123 grams of CO2 per tonne-kilometre.

"This retrograde step flies in the face of any Government commitment to emissions reduction."

Ms Bradford also expressed concern at the lack of consultation on the proposed decimation of sea freight funding. The deadline for feedback on the funding changes is Thursday, April 2 - just one week away.

"I doubt whether the Ministry has made any effort to consult with key shareholders such as unions or the Shipping Federation. A lack of public awareness leads me to suspect that there has been no real effort to seek the views from those most affected by the proposed changes," said Ms Bradford.

The Green Party called on the Government to urgently reconsider its decision to cut funding to coastal shipping development.


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