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National’s Motorway Obsession Hurts Regions


David

Shearer

Labour Leader
15 August 2012 MEDIA STATEMENT

National’s Motorway Obsession Hurts Regions

National’s plan to strip funding from local roading projects and to borrow billions to pay for marginal new motorways is hurting heartland New Zealand, says Labour Leader David Shearer.

“This Government’s priorities are all wrong. It is siphoning money out of local roads and borrowing billions to pay for motorways that are of a lower economic benefit than some rural roads.

“Local roads are drifting into a terrible state. I was recently told in one region that they are considering converting some of their back roads to gravel because they can’t afford to maintain them in their current state.

“In Tauranga, we see a report today that one of their worst traffic hotspots is unlikely to be fixed for three years despite it being ranked as a top priority.

“National is obsessed with building pet city projects like the holiday highway from Puhoi to Wellsford and is neglecting roads in the regions where big chunks of income are generated for our country.

“The Government has been going on about how bad it is to borrow money and uses that as a reason to sell our profitable state assets. But here it is essentially saying let’s get the taxpayer-funded credit card out to pay for roads that aren’t even a priority. That doesn’t make economic sense

“Budget projections show local road funding is declining from 22% of spending in 2010 to 19% in 2022 while money for State Highways will increase from 51.4 to 60% as National diverts money from local projects to its Roads of National Significance.

“It’s an example of how National is taking heartland New Zealand for granted. Kiwis living in our regions are losing their jobs, their education funding is being cut and services are being withdrawn. Tens of thousands of people are leaving our small cities and towns for a new life in Australia.

“Labour will focus on our regions. We will work with local communities to pursue new ideas for growth, find innovative ways to support developments that help grow local industries and invest in education so regional residents are highly-skilled. We want our regions to grow not decline as they are under National,” said David Shearer.

ENDS

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