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Clark: New transport vision for the new Millenium

Labour 2000 web siteLabour Leader Helen Clark said today that Labour will take New Zealand's transport system in a new direction in the 21st century. She said Labour will improve road safety and guarantee that New Zealand's roads remain publicly owned and managed.

"Labour sees transport as a public good. The health of the economy and society in general depend on a safe and efficient system for the transport of people and goods. That means ending the National Party's drive to corporatise and privatise our roading system.

"Such proposals threaten the maintenance and retention of the existing nation-wide roading network. They would remove accountability for roading away from the elected representatives of communities to unelected appointees running roads for profit. We completely oppose these moves.

A new nation-wide Transport Strategy
"Labour's nation-wide transport strategy will be practical and will aim at achieving co-operation within the sector. Investment in transport must be made in the public interest and should take priority over short-sighted moves like tax cuts.

Ministry of Transport
"It is a decade since responsibilities were devolved from the Ministry of Transport to more than a dozen satellite authorities, including Transit New Zealand, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Maritime Safety Authority. It is time that these satellite authorities were reviewed to ensure that they are operating effectively and accountably.

"Labour is committed to maintaining and building on our roading infrastructure and will place high priority on increasing funding for roading projects. This will particularly go to reducing 'black spots' and increasing the number of passing lanes.

"We favour roading management continuing to lie with bodies which are accountable to local communities. We are prepared to work with local government on regional clustering. This could include the devolution of state highway management to regional clusters under a national strategy. This has already been tested and found to be of real benefit in the Rotorua region, and could lead to significant efficiencies.

"Labour will consider arrangements which could speed up the investment in alternative routes. One option is to permit developers to build roads on a build, operate, toll and transfer basis. Such arrangements would made be on the basis that the roads would transfer back to public ownership on a contracted time scale. A non-tolled alternative road in public ownership would need to be maintained to a satisfactory standard.

Public transport
"Labour will be backing the development of a much stronger public transport infrastructure in our cities. We will invest in public transport, recognising the social, economic and environmental spin-offs of such an approach.

"For cities like Auckland, which daily experience gridlock, the benefits of improved public transport will be immense. The travelling public and commercial traffic need to be able to pass through metropolitan areas more quickly.

"Auckland's congestion is a significant and growing constraint on the economy. A high proportion of New Zealand's import and export trade goes through Auckland's ports and airports. That makes Auckland's traffic congestion an issue of national and not just regional significance. The New Zealand economy will benefit from quicker, and therefore cheaper, transport around the Auckland isthmus," Helen Clark said.

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