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Brownlee: APEC Transportation Working Group

Gerry Brownlee

1 APRIL, 2014

Speech: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Transportation Working Group

Introduction

Thank you for that introduction, Arlene.

It is my pleasure to extend to all the delegates a warm welcome to New Zealand, and specifically to Christchurch.

Christchurch is one of New Zealand’s largest cities and has a rich and varied history, including becoming New Zealand's first city by Royal Charter in 1856.

Since the major earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 and the thousands of subsequent aftershocks Christchurch has re-emerged at the forefront of New Zealand’s economic recovery.

Today I will highlight the overall importance of transport to the international economic agenda and outline some of the challenges that you, as a working group, are charged to consider.

I will provide some examples of New Zealand’s response to these challenges.

I will discuss the role of resilience in transport infrastructure and finish by touching on my other portfolio as Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, giving a brief overview of some of the construction and development scheduled to take place in the Canterbury region.

APEC and the importance of transport to the economic agenda

As transport officials working in an international context, you will agree with the World Bank’s description of transport as ‘the ultimate enabler’.

Transport enables the exchange of goods, and allows people to travel between economies, whether it is for business, education, to connect with families and friends, or for tourism.

The transport sector is at the very heart of global trade, and so transport systems need to be reliable and sustainable.

Increased international co-operation through forums like APEC is essential.

Building stronger international connections also allows us to access ideas, knowledge and resources that can boost each economy’s productivity and stimulate innovation.

The value of New Zealand’s total merchandise trade in 2012 with APEC members was NZ$68 billion, representing 72 per cent of New Zealand’s total two-way goods trade.

The APEC region also accounts for around three-quarters of foreign investment in the New Zealand economy.

Close coordination with APEC economies is important to New Zealand’s prosperity.

Broad themes from Tokyo

In September 2013 I attended the APEC Transportation Ministerial Meeting in Tokyo.

At that meeting we reaffirmed our commitment to improving transportation systems to improve the flow of goods, people, services, and capital in the APEC region.

We directed you, the working group, to continue to enhance your work on connectivity in areas including aviation, maritime, intercity and urban transport, and intelligent transportation systems.
At that meeting, we set our officials a number of challenges.

It is these challenges that you will be focusing on while in Christchurch, with the overarching theme of resilience.

You were asked to develop a transportation ‘Connectivity Map’ that will visualise the ideal transportation network within the APEC region.

You were asked to develop a cross-modal ‘Quality Transport’ vision, with the priorities of convenience, efficiency, safety, security, and sustainability. This should recognise the importance of safe and secure seas and skies to provide vital links that support trade and tourism between our economies.

You were also asked to further cooperate and share best practices regarding transport infrastructure, investment, financing and operations in each economy.

It is in this spirit of sharing best practice that I would like to outline some recent initiatives that illustrate the work we have undertaken to strengthen, improve and gain better insights into New Zealand’s transport infrastructure.

As a small, sparsely-populated economy distant from world markets, New Zealand relies on a strong transport network to move people, goods and services safely and efficiently.

We also need to ensure that our international connections are robust.

Air services liberalisation

A 2005 study undertaken by international consulting company InterVISTAS found that liberalising air travel directly benefits economies by increasing GDP, employment, travel and tourism, and exports.

Liberalising air travel also facilitates significant gains in the quality and quantity of direct air services between various communities worldwide.

During my term as Minister of Transport, New Zealand’s Ministry of Transport has negotiated about 30 new or amended air services agreements.

This represents a dramatic increase in the pace of our air services liberalisation programme, following my release of the government’s International Air Transport Policy in 2012.

This policy places more emphasis on increasing New Zealand’s connectivity to export markets and emphasises the continued pursuit of ‘open skies’ agreements.

The Ministry of Transport has taken advantage of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s annual International Air Services Negotiations Conference to reach most of these agreements.

This provides the opportunity to conclude new arrangements with a number of economies in the course of a week – a process the Ministry advises me is a little like ‘speed-dating’.

Some of the highlights of recent agreements include 2012’s agreement with China that tripled the number of flights that can be operated between the two economies.

China Southern has taken advantage of this by increasing its number of high-season weekly flights into Auckland from seven to 10.

An agreement we reached with Indonesia allows for a large phased increase in capacity between Indonesia and New Zealand.

We are also looking at opportunities to promote a multilateral ‘open skies’ air services agreement that would replace the current bilateral system.

New Zealand was an original signatory to the 2001 Multilateral Agreement on the Liberalization of International Air Transportation – along with other APEC member economies Brunei, Chile, Singapore and the United States.

In September last year I attended the 38th International Civil Aviation Organization General Assembly in Montreal. The Assembly endorsed a new strategic objective for the International Civil Aviation Organization over the next three years aimed at developing a long-term vision for liberalisation, a global regulatory framework and related policy guidance.

Following the recent tragedy of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, there has been a call to ensure that commercial jets are required to have installed the technology that will automatically and independently report on their speed and position.

This is an important matter and I challenge this working group to strongly consider the practicalities of mandating such technology in commercial aircraft.

Freight Demand Study

In March I released a National Freight Demand Study which was commissioned by the Ministry of Transport.

The study provides both a snapshot of New Zealand’s current freight task and a forecast of what New Zealand’s freight task will look like over the next 30 years.

It gives government and freight operators an understanding of the commodity mix, volumes and flows of freight across New Zealand.

It provides useful information for planning at both a nationwide and regional level.

The study indicates New Zealand’s freight task is projected to increase by about 50 per cent over the next 30 years.

The movement of freight is central to the economy and understanding the drivers of demand is critical to help determine what infrastructure and support is needed in New Zealand over the next 30 years.

The government has committed to a work programme to future proof road networks in New Zealand’s most populous regions and road linkages to strategic ports.

At $12 billion, our Roads of National Significance programme represents one of New Zealand's biggest ever infrastructure investments and will be critical to enable economic growth opportunities across the economy.

The seven current Roads of National Significance projects are based around New Zealand's five largest population centres. The first three of these roading projects to be completed are already saving New Zealanders time, improving their safety, and reducing fuel consumption.

Research released last year showed that motorists travelling on the new Christchurch Southern Motorway Stage 1 are saving almost 20 minutes travel time a day.

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)

We can also boost economic growth by adopting clever technology, such as intelligent transport systems.

These systems involve the application of advanced technologies such as computers, sensors, and communications in the transport sector, and are being developed at an increasingly fast pace.

They have the potential to transform the operation of all modes of transport, and to save lives, time, money and energy.

Last year I had the opportunity to see for myself the potential offered from new transport technology, taking Google's driverless car for a test drive during a visit to San Francisco.

While I was in Tokyo for the Minister’s meeting, I was also equally impressed with the new Nissan Leaf electric vehicle, and the technology developed to improve the vehicle’s safety and efficiency.

It is important that these sorts of technologies are introduced in a coordinated way so as to extract the greatest benefit for New Zealand.

The Ministry of Transport is currently working on an action plan which outlines the government’s strategic approach to encouraging and enabling these technologies in New Zealand.

As part of the action plan we are inviting companies to consider New Zealand as a place where new vehicle technologies can be tested. New Zealand has some distinctive aspects which make us an ideal trial environment.

These include our appetite for new technology, our relatively small but well-educated population, our flexible regulatory environment, and our diverse landscape and climate.

Intelligent Transport Systems are a fast developing area, and New Zealand is actively seeking opportunities to take advantage of advances at home and abroad.

Safer Journeys

Like many other economies, New Zealand has adopted a Safe System approach to tackle the important issue of road safety.

This means working towards making all aspects of the land transport system safer – the road user, the speed they travel at, the vehicles they drive and the roads and roadsides they use.

Under the government’s current road safety strategy, Safer Journeys, we have introduced a number of road safety measures to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads.

We have strengthened driving licence testing to raise the standard and help keep young drivers safer.

We have also increased the driving age to 16 and implemented a zero blood alcohol level for repeat drink driving offenders and drivers under 20 years of age.

Recently I introduced legislation to lower the adult blood alcohol level to the recommended World Health Organisation level of 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood.

Policy initiatives such as these have had positive results.

Although the number of cars on the roads has increased significantly, New Zealand’s annual road toll for 2013 was 254 – our lowest in the last 60 years.

While this is a significant achievement, there is still an average of five people dying and more than 230 injured on our roads every week. Every death and serious injury on our roads is a tragedy and there can be no let up in our safety first approach. We will continue to work to meet our vision of a safe road system increasingly free of death and serious injury.

Resilience

At the APEC Transport Ministers’ meeting in Tokyo, we reaffirmed the importance of preparedness, resilience and response to natural disasters within the APEC region.

While New Zealand is in the process of rebuilding after the Canterbury earthquakes, we are well aware that other APEC economies have faced challenges of their own through earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones and other natural disasters.

Through forums such as this workshop, and the APEC global supply chain resilience workshop that was hosted in New Zealand last week, we will continue to learn from each other’s experiences and share best practices to protect and strengthen supply chains and transportation infrastructure.

Resilience is embedded in the approach to planning New Zealand’s transport infrastructure.

We have developed a National Infrastructure Plan which sets out a vision that, by 2030, New Zealand's infrastructure is resilient, coordinated and contributes to economic growth and increased quality of life.

This vision will be achieved through promoting better use of existing assets and allocating new investment more effectively.

From a policy perspective, the New Zealand Ministry of Transport has four long-term outcomes for the transport sector, under the headings effective, efficient, safe and responsible, resilient.

On a practical level, the New Zealand Transport Agency is working with KiwiRail, which is responsible for our railway network, along with Transpower, the organisation that owns and maintains the national electricity grid, on a Resilience Response Framework.

This framework is based on the lessons learnt from the Japanese earthquake and subsequent tsunami which struck in March 2011, and the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.

The framework broadly encompasses prevention, mitigation and preparedness ahead of an event, emergency response during an event, and restoration and rehabilitation after an event.

Transport and the Canterbury rebuild

As the Resilience Response Framework indicates, restoration and rebuilding is a crucial part of resilience.

I’m pleased to say that the rebuild of Canterbury is well underway.

233km of wastewater, 44km of water, 14km of storm water pipes and over 341, 000 square metres of road pavement have been replaced or repaired.

Recently, in my capacity as Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister, I announced the preliminary design for Christchurch’s new $53 million Bus Interchange.

This new public transport hub promises to be a state of the art, user-friendly facility.

The facility is designed to link to other modes of transport and to cope with projected transport growth through to 2041.

Detailed designs are still to be finalised, and construction is expected to begin in the middle of this year, with the facility due to be operating by the second quarter of next year.

The Bus Interchange is one of 15 Anchor Projects, eight of which will start construction in 2014. These Anchor Projects form the core of the redevelopment and will provide key facilities that Canterbury will need now and in the future.

Due to the important role that transport and connectivity plays in communities, it is fitting the Bus Interchange is one of the first projects to get started.

Other Anchor Projects due to kick off in 2014 include precincts for Justice and Emergency Services, Health, Retail, Innovation and Sports.

Part of the redevelopment of central Christchurch involved looking at how its transport system could better service a smaller, more compact CBD.

To do this we developed An Accessible City, the transport chapter of the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan, which identifies how we will create a greener, more accessible city. This involved a detailed consultation with industry groups and attracted almost 300 submissions.

In creating An Accessible City we have aimed to ensure the way people move around the central city will be better than before the earthquakes. Parking and service vehicle access will be better organised and the central city will be a place to travel to, not through.

These changes will happen progressively to fit with the development of the Anchor Projects.

Key changes to roading will include converting two main inner city streets from one-way to two-way and creating a 30km speed restriction in the city’s central core.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority is now working closely with the Christchurch City Council to ensure the design guidelines are robust, the public realm network is cleverly integrated and that the overall parking plan will ensure safe, easy and enjoyable travel in and out of the central city.

We are also making progress on Roads of National Significance around Christchurch. These improved motorway links to the north, west and south will enhance the connections to where people increasingly choose to live and work.

The Roads of National Significance will reduce congestion, improve safety and support economic growth, providing better links between the city, the International Airport and Lyttelton Port.

The work that the rebuild teams are undertaking above and below the ground will ensure that Christchurch remains a vibrant city to live in and visit.

I hope that you take advantage of the technical tours associated with this meeting.

The tours will allow you to see for yourselves how land, aviation and maritime infrastructure withstood the earthquakes.

You’ll also get an overview of the management of rebuilding the infrastructure in each of those sectors.

Conclusion

I wish you all the best for an interesting and productive working group meeting.

The knowledge that you share and the initiatives that you undertake will help ensure that transportation in the APEC region is safe, secure, convenient, efficient, and sustainable.

The APEC Transport Ministers will be very interested in hearing about your progress on meeting the challenges set in Tokyo at their next meeting in the Philippines in 2015.

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