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Roading Plans Last Straw For Heartland - Mayor

Kaikoura Mayor Jim Abernethy says his district's roads are likely to be the first to fall into disrepair under the Government's plans to have the country's roads run by commercial companies.

"When the Government unleashes its experimental new commercial roading system upon an unsuspecting public next year, for many of us it's going to be the last straw", said Mr Abernethy.

"Back country roads are the lifeline of rural New Zealand. When the Government hands them over to its profit-making corporations, it will be effectively sealing the fate of rural roads and the communities that depend on them."

"My district has 198km of sealed and unsealed roads, worth $39 million. All of them, including bridges and culverts, have been paid for by Kaikoura residents over generations."

"But because of our small population, our roads will be so far down the priority lists for maintenance, we are likely to witness the gradual break-up of our local roading network", said Mr Abernethy.

"The more we learn about these plans to just hand over our community's roads to huge commercial monopolies, the more you have to ask yourself - just whose side are these people on?"

"What really scares me, is that the Minister of Transport recently called his roading plans the biggest set of reforms the country would ever consider. And now we are entering a general election with hardly a peep from his Party about them", said Mr Abernethy wryly.

The Government's roading plans, released late last year, proposes establishing four to eight commercial companies to run the nation's roads.

The Minister of Transport, Maurice Williamson, said last week that despite reaching widespread consensus on the broad principles of the proposals, consultation was continuing.

"We in Kaikoura are happy to have existing funding issues addressed, but our residents expect our roads to be maintained to at least our current standards", said Mr Abernethy.

ENDS....

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