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ACT - the 5-star transport party

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Deborah Coddington (more)

Address to Logistics and Transport NZ Transport Forum; Waipuna Lodge, Mt Wellington, Auckland; Monday, 15 August 2005.

If the self-ordained experts who comment on the polls are correct and the next government is a Labour/Progressives/Green/ coalition, then anyone who is concerned about transport in New Zealand should be afraid.

And if that coalition includes the Maori Party, then they should be very afraid.

ACT has always promoted a vision of getting New Zealand moving.  We want New Zealanders to be able to get from A to B without unnecessary hold-ups on the road.

ACT will stop raiding petrol taxes for other purposes and ensure they’re applied to roading projects.  ACT’s long-held policy has always been to put all transport excises into better roading infrastructure.  ACT would immediately reverse Labour’s five-cent petrol tax, giving it back to the drivers who earned it in the first place.

These figures are rounded, but today just under half (48%) of what drivers pay when they fill their cars with petrol is made up of government taxes – only 37% of the tax taken on fuel actually goes into roading.  A staggering 54% is used for general spending.  A further 8% goes to ACC.

Diesel charges also went through the roof on April 1.  Sixty-four percent of diesel vehicles on our roads are two-tonne types – on 1 April those vehicles faced a 27% increase in Road User Charges.  Buying 20,000kms rose from just over $500 to about $640.

That’s a terrible burden for small, medium – and big – business.  It’s what makes big business, small business, then no business.

Kiwi households, too, are struggling to meet their weekly fuel bills.  Most families don’t have much choice – they have to pay for transport in some way or another – so they do without in other areas.  First to be hit will be entertainment.  So the NZ Tourism industry is going to suffer – dining out, takeaways, movies, holidays will be sacrificed, and so on down the chain it will affect manufacturing and employment.

The five-cent petrol hike was the latest in over 30 new taxes, levies and excises Labour has foisted on this country since 1999.

Where’s the Minister for Lower Petrol Prices?  Jim Anderton, after coming to power in 1999, attacked the petrol companies for increasing petrol prices.  He declared to the House on 30 March 2000 that he should be known as the “Minister for Lower Petrol Prices”.

Back then, petrol prices were around $1 a litre.  Now a litre of regular costs $1.44 and we haven’t heard a peep from Mr Anderton.

He wants to be the Minister of Education.  When he talked petrol prices, “lower” meant “higher” so I presume when he talks education standards, “higher” will mean “lower”.  How low, though, can they go?

The Progressives have done nothing to keep fuel prices down since 1999.  United Future – the so-called strong family party – has never made it a condition of support to the Labour Government that families not be made to suffer every time they fill the family car.

As part of a centre-right government, ACT would move to reduce – and eventually eliminate – the exploitation of petrol taxes for general revenue use and immediately reverse the 5c/litre increase.

The best way to fix Auckland’s gridlock problems, and indeed the roading infrastructure throughout New Zealand, is to radically overhaul the Resource Management Act.  The Act doesn’t work – the Labour Government knows it doesn’t work because it brought in special fast-tracking legislation for Project Aqua (which the Greens scuttled).

In December 2003 Transit admitted it couldn’t spend all the money it collected because of resource consent delays holding up major projects.

Alpurt was a good example – held up for years at huge expense and great grief to the poor people of Orewa, to say nothing of the motorists stuck in traffic jams, because of one person in the Coromandel objecting on behalf of native fish!

The Land Transport Management Act passed by Labour and pushed by the Greens extends consultancy to everyone in affected communities – not just iwi, Greenpeace, and cycling lobbies but can include Plunket, Pony Club, Pipe Bands and Uncle Tom Cobbly.

In this Act, transport is defined as anything that moves.  The Labour/Progressive/Greens won’t even talk about building more roads.  Instead they use green plated weasel words like ‘transport projects’.

Meanwhile, needs of industrial transport are ignored – livestock, cement, logs, fresh and frozen produce – which fuels the economy and must reach its destination quickly and cheaply.  Instead, we will be spending money on diversions like subsidising public transport, so-called vehicle emissions, and ‘sustainability’ that nobody can define.

On 12 December 2003 Helen Clark demonstrated her contempt for Auckland when she raised petrol tax by five cents a litre and called Auckland a “drain on national transport funds”.

Roading infrastructure is capital development.  Money should be invested where the returns are highest.  There is much evidence to justify why Auckland needs big investment in roads.

If you want to see the future for roading under a continuation of a left-wing government, look no further than Transit’s Environmental Plan, November 2004 (if your stomach is strong enough).

“Air Quality” and the burning of fossil fuels by naughty, naughty motor vehicles features strongly.  Road transport, we are told, “accounts for 40% of New Zealand’s total CO2 emissions…CO2 is a major contributor to the greenhouse gas effect that is causing a change in global weather patterns and sea levels”.

Says who?  Certainly not Professor David Bellamy and more than 18,000 leading scientists who signed a petition produced by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, and who are totally opposed to the Kyoto Protocol.

As Bellamy says, global warming is “poppycock”.  As he says, CO2 “is not the dreaded killer greenhouse gas that the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio and the subsequent Kyoto Protocol five years later cracked it up to be.  It is in fact the most important airborne fertiliser in the world, and without it there would be no green plants at all.”  Even if we double the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, all that would happen, according to these scientists, is a rise in plant productivity.  The Greens should favour that.

That New Zealand blindly accepts the prevailing politically correct view that CO2 is an evil production is to the cost of this nation.  A cost of around $100 a year from each one of us, because of this government’s bungling and Kyoto blowout.

Another scary thing on Transit’s environment plan is what’s in store for property owners – Transit, it seems, will no longer allow access to state highways between existing settlements (among other things).  I’ve already been told about the owner of a Northland property who cannot convert an existing building unless he finds an alternative access to the network rather than use his existing access via the front boundary.  This means that he has effectively lost his title because title depends on road access.  And of course he has to pay for the alternative access because he has to buy the land of unwilling settlers.

This will affect a huge number of farmers and forestry owners.

In Conclusion:

·         Allow Whenuapai to be a commercial airport – perfect case for public/private partnership and would not cost ratepayers one cent.

·         Stop taxing motorists through the police – separate traffic from policing and concentrate on dangerous drivers, not mothers dropping their kids off at school and being ticketed for doing 55kph.

·         Environments are important, but trees shouldn’t take precedence over roads, e.g. some roads in Auckland could be two-lane if they trimmed the overhanging trees – ask any truck driver doing deliveries.

·         More passing lanes and better driver education – start by ticketing slow drivers who hold up streams of traffic.

·         Get the crime rate down by being tough on crims, so families can let their kids walk to and from school, and people are safe when they wait at bus stops.

In a recent Sunday Star-Times motorists survey, ACT was the only party to score five stars for its transport policy.  ACT recognises the importance of the car to New Zealanders.  It’s a boon for families, young people, people who don’t want to use public transport.

We need to keep up with New Zealanders and have a transport network that’s safe, efficient and not a drain on motorists’ pockets.


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Just when i thought there were no sane comments ever going to come on transport I read this speech from Deborah.
The solutions seem so rational when someone with the knowledge lays them out.

Go Deborah!

BRAVO!! I agree whole heartedly with Deborah - she certainly makes the most sense I've seen so far.
I'd like to raise one question though. Why has NZ done away with trains and the workshops? Having the trains running again would make cheaper travel through NZ, and would take a lot of pressure off truck drivers who are often needed to work longer hours to deliver important cargo.

I agree that the petrol tax should be spent on transportation, however I believe we need better public transport - particullarly in Auckland. It needs to be multi modal and integrated. i.e. bus, train, ferry etc. They say that congestion cost Auckland $1 billion per year so wouldn't it make sense to spend money encouraging commuters to take public transport? I also agree with Lorainne's comment above that we need more investment in the national rail network as investment in the rail network now would be of far greater future benefit to the country's economy.

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