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$9.17 billion earmarked for NZ roads

The Government will invest $9.17 into New Zealand’s state highway network over the next four years, says Transport Minister Simon Bridges.

“This will be the Government’s biggest ever investment in our state highway network and it is a key pillar of the Government’s commitment to building the infrastructure for a growing country,” he says.

The investment capital is drawn from a range of investments, including $4.84 million from the National Land Transport Fund, $1 billion in committed Crown funding, $1.43 billion in public-private partnerships and $1.9 billion from the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).

“The Government expects to open 540 new lane kilometres of state highways over the next four years. This will be the largest increase in state highway capacity in decades,” Bridges says.

Key projects being progressed over the next four years include:

  • The completion of Auckland’s Western Ring Route.
  • The Northern and Southern Corridor State Highway 1 improvements in Auckland.
  • The East-West Link in Auckland.
  • The Huntly and Hamilton sections of the Waikato Expressway.
  • The State Highway 1 Peka Peka to Ōtaki Expressway.
  • The Northern Arterial and the Southern Motorway Extension in Christchurch.
  • The Transmission Gully and Pūhoi to Warkworth Public Private Partnerships.
  • The Whirokino trestle bridge replacement in Manawatu-Whanganui.
  • The Mt Messenger-Awakino Gorge corridor in Taranaki.
  • The Motu Bridge replacement in Gisborne.

Bridges says funding is concentrated on completing current roads of national significance projects, which link major cities to regions around the country, and also connecting export sectors with key ports to ensure the safer movement of freight. Regional roads will also receive a funding boost.

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Land Transport Amendment Bill passes second reading

The second reading of the Land Transport Amendment Bill passed in Parliament last night, chaired by Transport Minister Simon Bridges.

Bridges said the amendment will “overhaul small passenger services by removing outdated provisions and bringing the sector into the 21st century.”

“Safety will be maintained in the future system with the retention of the P endorsement, certificate of fitness, and work time limit requirements,” he said.

“Although mandatory signage is being removed, small passenger services will still be required to have a transport service licence card displayed in their vehicle’s window, and drivers will still have to display their driver identification cards.”

The bill will also make alcohol interlocks mandatory for high-risk and repeat drink-drivers with the aim of improving road safety, and will increase penalties for drivers who fail to stop for police.

Public transport was also targeted, and the bill will give enforcement officers new powers to prevent fare evasion.

“I am proud of this bill,” Bridges said. “I think it futureproofs our land transport regime.”

The recent popularity of Uber in New Zealand has put pressure on existing legislation, as traditional taxi services face stiff competition from app-driven passenger services.

Labour’s transport spokesperson, Sue Moroney, supported the amendment, but remarked the party had strong reservations about two clauses in the bill relating to small passenger services.

Under the amendment, Braille signage and in-vehicle cameras will no longer be required in passenger services.

“For the majority of people, they are using these services when they are impaired one way or the other,” she said. “They are utterly dependent on this service and these services need to be safe for them because they are extremely vulnerable.”

ACT MP David Seymour also supported the amendment, but said the bill could go much further in terms of regulating passenger services.

“We could lead the world in technology. We could increase the vehicle occupancy rates in our cars, but this bill does none of that, and it is a terrible shame,” he said.

New Zealand First was the only party to reject the bill. “We do agree, of course, that it is silly to have separate rules for taxis and Uber services and others involved in the industry,” said MP Denis O’ Rourke.

“One set of regulations ought to mean a level playing field, and we support that. But that does not mean that we have to lower standards to provide a carte blanche for Uber services.”

The bill passed 107-12, and has moved into the Select Committee.

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State Services Commission to investigate MoT fraud

The State Services Commission will take over the investigation from the Ministry of Transport into Joanne Harrison’s fraud case.

State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes said today he was stepping in due to mounting public concern in the case.

“Public servants must be able to raise concerns without fear of punishment or reprisal,” he told news website Stuff.

“If public servants raised genuine concerns through proper channels and were then disadvantaged in any way because of it, that would be completely unacceptable and something I view very seriously,” he said.

This comes on the same day Auditor-General Martin Matthews, who was the CEO of the transport ministry at the time Harrison committed the fraud, will appear in front of MPs at a Parliament committee meeting.

The investigation will be carried out by Sandi Beatie, QSO, who will report to the State Services Commissioner.

“Ms Beatie is a very experienced and highly regarded former senior Public Servant and Deputy State Services Commissioner,” Hughes said.

“If anyone feels they were disadvantaged by Ms Harrison during their employment at the Ministry of Transport I ask them to come forward so the matter can be investigated.”

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Former MoT workers describe axing by Harrison

Two former transport ministry workers have described how they were forced out of the ministry after alerting other staff about Joanne Harrison’s fraudulent behaviour.

The whistleblowers explained to RNZ how they informed senior managers about fake invoices and travel expenses and were then targeted in a restructure led by Harrison.

Harrison was sentenced to three years and seven months in prison in February for stealing $723,000 from the Ministry of Transport.

As well as the embezzled funds, Harrison secured a high-profile job for her husband at another government agency and got another job for a friend, who was on the ministry’s payroll for 10 months without doing any work.

One employee first raised concerns in 2015 after receiving an invoice for Mazarine Associates.

“We couldn’t find anything about them – they had no website, there was no phone number or email address on the invoice,” the former staff member told RNZ.

“I also raised questions about it in a team meeting about this invoice at the time, I said ‘it’s a very unprofessional invoice’ and as it turned out this is one of the ones she used to embezzle a lot of money from the ministry.”

It later emerged that over $500,000 of funds was funnelled to Mazarine and a second consulting form, both of which never existed.

The second employee also shared concerns about the fake invoices and informed then-CEO Martin Matthews about a trip Harrison took to the UK to attend conference, which had been cancelled.

“I’ve got no doubt, in my own mind, but they’ve probably covered themselves – the way they do when they do restructures,” they said.

“When we raised issues sometimes, we were told ‘you’re only here to pay the invoices, and if they’re signed and approved that’s all you have to worry about’.”

The former staff members were then let go during December, the busiest time of year for the ministry’s finance division, and immediately replaced by a temp worker.

Both employees are dissatisfied with the inquiry established by the Ministry of Transport CEO Peter Mersi, and have written to the State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes requesting an independent investigation.

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Net migration equals March record

Annual net migration was steady in April, as 71,900 more migrants arrived in New Zealand than left, Stats NZ said today. This is the same level as in March 2017.

Migrant arrivals grew to 129,800 in the April 2017 year, a new record, and migrant departures were up slightly to 57,900.

Arrivals from Asia were down 5.6 per cent to 42,787, mainly due to a 30 per cent decline in Indian migrants, down 4,021 compared to the April 2016 year.

Arrivals from Europe increased 10.8 per cent, mainly from the UK (up 10.7 per cent), France (up 11.9 per cent) and Germany (up 13.1 per cent) bringing 30,722 new residents into the country for the April 2017 year.

Stats NZ’s current method of collecting migration figures is based on arrival and departure cards. A new data series of migrant activity based on data between 2001 and 2015, released today, shows the two methodologies line up well in terms of net migration.

“The new ‘12/16-month rule’ measure identifies an individual’s migrant status after their travel history is observed over a 16-month follow-up period,” Dolan said.

“Independent of the traveller’s legal residence status and the intentions they state on their passenger card, when we compare this new measure with existing migration statistics we find the net permanent and long-term migration measure provides a timely and robust indicator of international migration’s contribution to changes in our resident population.” 

However, both arrivals and departures were estimated at higher levels by this new rule, as short-term visits turned into longer stays, both for returning citizens and New Zealanders going overseas.

Visitor arrivals were up 10 per cent, setting a new annual record at 3.6 million. Arrivals topped 311,900 in the month of April, up 21 per cent compared to April 2016. Stats NZ attributed this boom to the Easter holidays, which fell in April this year, but March in 2016.

“Almost 35,000 more holiday-makers arrived in New Zealand in April 2017 than in April 2016, which was the main contributor to the strong overall increase in visitor arrivals in April,” Dolan said.

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Goff to relocate Ports of Auckland

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has addressed rumours around the sale of the Ports of Auckland, saying he wants to see the port relocated in order to free up the land for the public.

“I want to progress plans to relocate the port from the city-centre waterfront and free up 77 hectares of land for public use. This has always been my bottom line,” Goff posted on Facebook last night.

“I don’t decide whether the port is sold or not, it will be a decision made by all Councillors. Councillors can only decide the future of the Port company once we have a better idea of where it will located and options for meeting the costs of relocation.”

Goff told RNZ’s Checkpoint last night that he wants “a clear plan for the port overtime to relocate,” but stressed that he was only one voice at a 21-seat council.

“During the campaign, I stated a very clear position that overtime, I wanted the port moved from the central business district of Auckland, and I wanted Aucklanders to regain access to… the harbour,” he added.

“It’s probably the most valuable real estate in New Zealand we have at the moment, and we use it to park cars and containers.”

The Ports Future Study, published in July last year, presented Manukau Habour and the Firth of Thames as possible future locations for the port. The Auckland mayor rejected the South Auckland site, saying it was on the wrong coast for most shipping lines, and with a shallow harbour and bar, would have to be constantly dredged.

“The port is thinking more realistically the option would be in the Firth of Thames,” he said last night, adding that the move would take twenty years to complete.

Goff also addressed rumours swirling amongst merchant banking circles in Auckland that an IPO for the Ports of Auckland was on the table. The Ports of Auckland spokesman Mat Ball confirmed to journalists that the company was discussing separating the land from the port earlier this week.

“I think the port company is looking at that,” Goff said. “That’s not my starting point. Where we reach agreement is they see some value in separating the port operating company and the land.”

The Ports of Auckland is the major site of vehicles being shipped to New Zealand, taking 90 per cent of total vehicle imports in the last six months of 2016.

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BMW expands NZ i network

BMW’s i3 is the top-selling new EV car of 2016

BMW Group New Zealand has announced an extension to the existing inetwork. Winger BMW in Wellington and Christchurch BMW will become official i sales dealers from July 1. The two dealerships join authorised i dealer Auckland City BMW.

The BMW i is a full-package electric support service which provides private and public charging stations to BMW EV drivers, advanced navigation software to locate chargers and map out efficient driving routes, and electric aftercare maintenance and repair.

The remaining dealer network are being upgraded to include BMW i service, which will enable BMW to support customers across New Zealand.

“This commitment from our dealer network further provides customers with even more access to a wide range of electric vehicles, charging and dealer support in all parts of the country,” said commented BMW Group New Zealand managing director, Florian Renndorfer.

This follows BMW’s collaboration with ChargeNet NZ, announced last year, to help establish New Zealand’s electric highway of DC fast chargers that will facilitate EV driving along the length of the country. Charging at a BMW ChargeNow station takes around 30 minutes to reach 80 per cent battery capacity.

BMW’s electric offering, the i3, was the top-selling new EV car in the country for 2016, with 144 units sold.

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AA urges to buy new

You are more likely to die in a crash if the car you’re travelling in was built before 2000.

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Historic speeding ticket

The Concours of Elegance 2017 will be bringing a very special piece of history to Hampton Court Palace this September; the first ever car to receive a speeding ticket. The 1896 Arnold Benz Motor Carriage was travelling at four times the speed limit, at a heady eight mph, before being pulled over by a policeman on a bicycle.

The law at the time required all cars stick to a limit of two mph and that they be led by a man on foot waving a red flag at all times. But Walter Arnold, driving through Paddock Green in Kent, was doing neither. As a result Walter was convicted of speeding and forced to pay a shilling fine plus costs.

It was in late 1896, with the advent of the Locomotives Act, that the need for a red flag bearer and 2mph speed limit were abolished and the limit raised to 14mph. In celebration, cars raced from London to Brighton in a so-called Emancipation Run, during which Walter Arnold actually competed.

The run still exists to this day, in the form of the Royal Automobile Club’s annual Veteran Car Run, in which pre-1905 cars recreate the journey from London to Brighton. A parade of these cars will also be arriving at the Concours of Elegance in September, allowing visitors to experience the sights and sounds of the earliest motoring pioneers.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace will be welcoming some of the fastest cars ever built. On display will be the Le Mans-winning Jaguar XJR-9 and the Harrods-livered McLaren F1 GTR – both of which are capable of more than 240mph.

For the first time at the Concours of Elegance, many of the cars on display will be taking part in moving parades over the weekend, including a trip to the event’s new central stage. Featuring commentary and interviews with some of the world’s foremost motoring experts, the stage will provide a focal point for all visitors to the Concours of Elegance.

Adult tickets for this year’s Concours of Elegance start from just £25, with concessions from £17.50. Children under five and carers can enter free of charge. Members of the public also have the opportunity to attend on Friday 1st September, a day normally reserved for the Owners of the main Concours cars.

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BMW 2 NZ launch

The BMW 2 Series Coupe and BMW 2 Series Convertible are scheduled for launch in New Zealand around the third quarter of 2017.

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Toyota NZ wins award

Toyota New Zealand’s sustainability efforts have been recognised with a New Zealand top-three award in the Annual Review of the State of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Published by the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, the review is one of
the world’s largest ongoing studies of CSR trends and practises and is the only one of its kind
in Australasia.
Forty five of the 240 companies surveyed were from New Zealand. The review surveys
employees on CSR priorities, practices and management capabilities.
The CSR top-three award does not rank the three companies, but judges them as the
best. The other two New Zealand companies were Air New Zealand and Westpac.
Toyota New Zealand’s Chief Executive Alistair Davis says “business has an important role to
play in society and solving sustainability issues.”
Toyota has several partnerships and apart from adding value to one another’s operations,
“the most important question for us is how the organisation and Toyota can add value to New
Zealand,” said Davis.
The same philosophy is behind Toyota Kiwi Guardians, a partnership with the Department of
Conversation,to encourage 6 -10 year olds out into the natural environment so they will
appreciate and protect it in the decades to come.
The annual Toyota Racing Series has now helped groom a generation of drivers who have
gone on to win world titles and championships, as well as cement positions in some of the top
factory teams worldwide.
The aim of the annual State of CSR review is to provide companies with an analysis of key CSR
trends to enable them to make sound decisions that create positive change within their
businesses and communities.

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