Transport Package Welcomed
Grahame Hall, Local Government New Zealand spokesperson on transport and Mayor of Rotorua, says that local government welcomes and is generally supportive of the transport package announced by the Government.
“No one likes to pay more tax, but it has been clear to local government for quite some time that New Zealand is under investing in its transport network and that more funding is required if we are to meet the needs of our communities” he said.
“We are pleased to see that these additional funds will be dedicated to transport and will be allocated within the framework of the Government’s strategic vision for transport.”
Local Government is also pleased to see a clear statement of the Government’s priorities for transport investment. “Given the many competing demands for transport investment it is really important that the Government adopts a strategic approach to priority setting and provides Transfund with very clear investment signals” Mr Hall said.
This strategic approach is reinforced by a new requirement for national roading fund expenditure and revenue to be planned over a ten year period. “It is great to see something of the discipline that local government applies to its investment decisions being applied at the national level” said Mr Hall.
This move will provide much more flexibility in funding major capital works and along with the proposed legislation for toll roads will enable us all to get moving on the backlog of major projects that are awaiting funding.
Local Government New Zealand is pleased to see the broadening of Transfund’s role to ensuring that funds are allocated objectively on the basis of improving the land transport system as a whole – rather than just a focus on roads. “This will ensure an equitable distribution of these funds across the country, in addition to addressing the pressing needs in Auckland” said Mr Hall.
Mr Hall noted that no one questions the need to address major congestion issues in Auckland and stated Local Government New Zealand’s view that it is in everyone’s interest that Auckland’s transport system works well. “Since such a huge proportion of our imports and exports go through Auckland the current congestion in Auckland costs everyone and adds to the cost of almost everything that we buy or sell. Fixing this is really important to the performance of our economy.”
“Many urban local authorities will be delighted to see that public transport projects will be funded on their own merits rather than having to compete directly with roading projects. This specific allocation of funding to urban transport projects should see significant enhancement of these services for our urban communities” he said.
For rural communities, the recognition of regional development consideration in roading proposals will be welcomed. Also the encouragement by the Government for clustering - the ability for roading authorities (Transit and Councils) to delegate road management powers to each other, will promote innovative partnerships that will reduce costs and will benefit communities.
“On the whole the local government sector is supportive of the Government’s initiatives and recognises the financial constraints that the government faces” he said. “These proposals will be welcomed by local government as a sensible and credible step forward.”