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Mayors are right – Minister is wrong

Hon Darren Hughes
Transport Spokesperson
Hon George Hawkins
Local Government Spokesperson

19 October 2009 Media Statement
Mayors are right – Minister is wrong
Transport Minister Steven Joyce is being mischievous and is just plain wrong to suggest that local roading funding has increased, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Darren Hughes said today.

“Regional Mayors don’t believe him, Labour doesn’t believe him, and that’s because he is 100% wrong,” Darren Hughes said.

“Councils in Wanganui, Napier and Southland have all spoken out that they’ve lost millions in roading subsidies over the next three years, and they’re right.

“The three year National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) released in August set out the Government’s plan to freeze spending on the maintenance of local roads in the NLTP’s second and third years.”

Darren Hughes says Steven Joyce’s false surprise that mayors are upset at losing millions of dollars to maintain regional roads is laughable.

“It’s because of the Minister’s tunnel-vision focus on large roading projects in the main centres that hardworking Kiwis in the provinces are missing out,” Darren Hughes said.

“To make matters worse Steven Joyce tries to claim that he’s increased funding for local roading improvements by 17%. To set Mr Joyce straight – he’s wrong.

“His own NLTP proves that and he should be more upfront with the regional mayors who, quite rightly, are critical of his move to rip millions out of their road maintenance budgets.”

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Labour’s Local Government spokesperson George Hawkins says councils will be left shortchanged.

“Councils will be left facing some pretty awful options - either letting the roads go to ruin, or keeping them maintained.

“But where will the money come from? Will ratepayers be forced to pay the difference?”

Darren Hughes says provincial roads are important for our primary industries.

“They are vital for getting goods from farm-gates and factories to markets and ports.

“At a time when we’re allowing heavier and longer trucks on these roads, it’s nonsensical that we don’t back that up with a proper programme of maintenance.

“Keeping these provincial roads maintained and safe is important for provincial businesses and communities, but it seems Steven Joyce doesn’t get that.”


ENDS

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