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Government paralysis in transport failing NZ

Government paralysis in transport failing New Zealand

Alliance Party media release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday 15 December 2009

The Alliance Party says New Zealand's transport infrastructure should not be allowed to fall victim to the National Government's lack of foresight and lack of leadership.

Alliance Party transport spokesperson Trevor Hanson says at least two New Zealand regions have had their transport infrastructure put under threat as a result of dominant market players making unilateral decisions – decisions that have seriously affected regional industry.

He says it appears the regions are being left high and dry by the Government.

"Ports in Timaru and New Plymouth have literally had the rug pulled out from under them by Fonterra. Is the National Government taking care of all regions, or are they playing favorites with a few friends like Fonterra management or the big trucking owners?"

He says New Zealand can't afford a lack of direction where uncertainty and lack of long term planning are allowed to undermine an effective transport system.

"Transport infrastructure must be planned and organized on a national basis, not allowed to descend into chaotic and wasteful competition for a limited market, which results in a race to the bottom, instability and duplication of infrastructure."

"A prime example is the financial disaster left in the wake of the sale and privatisation of New Zealand Rail, and the buy back by the previous Government, which had to happen or New Zealand would have been left without national rail system. In the meantime, two decades of botched ideology and missed opportunities."

He says the National Government is depending on a mythical "free market" to provide the answers rather than setting the framework for a fully integrated planned transport system.

Mr Hanson says the key goals for transport must be economic effectiveness, social responsibility and environmental impact, but the Government is currently failing on all three counts.

"For example, the current Government has poured money into roading, boosting the profits of the big operators, while ignoring coastal shipping and a planned hub-feeder system for New Zealand ports. Their approach is a dead end that has serious implications in the long term, economically, socially and environmentally."

The Alliance supports the ownership of transport infrastructure, roads, rail, and airports in public hands.

It supports the ownership of Ports in New Zealand public ownership, and is supportive of the KiwiPort concept suggested by the Maritime Union, which would see national co-ordination of ports for maximum benefit.

The Alliance argues for the introduction of cabotage which would give New Zealand shipping the first option to carry domestic cargo and would investigate a publicly owned shipping line, as well as taking back the national airline into public ownership.

In Government, it would also work towards a low cost and extensive public transport system, and end public private partnerships and toll roads.

ENDS

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