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Roading more than Highways

The Government’s preoccupation with state highways and urban congestion threatens the lifeblood of the economy – Provincial New Zealand, says Charlie Pedersen, Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc) Vice President.

The Government’ meddling in transport threatens to make matters worse not better. Shifting insufficient funds around is just shifting not solving the problem.

“Better roads are required for Provincial New Zealand. Throwing more of road users funds at alternatives to roading will stifle, not enhance, New Zealand’s economic development.

“The Government stated yesterday that ‘Transfund is allocating almost $1.2 billion this year, an increase of 8 percent.’ The inference is that this is good for road users. The facts are very different – especially if you live in Rural New Zealand.

“While rail, sea and air have their role, a recent Infometrics Report (June 2003) concluded ‘that road transport is of particular importance to primary industries, accounts for a larger share of economic activity in regional economies than for the economy as a whole, and is the preferred transport choice for businesses over rail.’

“The fundamental problem is one of long term underfunding. Close to a billion dollars more per year could be spend on roading if all the money that was paid by motorists was actually spent on roads – that’s nearly twice the current spending.

“Prior to 1984 New Zealand’s transport sector was highly regulated and inefficient. The removal of the shackles of Government intervention and subsidy has resulted in a highly efficient transport sector that has made a significant contribution to the economic prosperity we are now enjoying. The Government is now spending the fruits of this success on re-regulation and interference that will ultimately undermine our economic growth.

“Much more money needs to be spent on roads. The Government should stop interfering in the lives of businesses and individuals – and return to concentrating on creating a business-friendly environment rather than trying to pick winners.”

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