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Labour sets out transport plan

The Government is proposing a nationwide fuel tax increase of between nine and 12 cents a litre to fund a raft of new land transport plans that focus on investing in road safety and rapid rail.

The Government has issued its 2018 Draft Policy Statement on land transport (GPS), which sets out how funding is allocated between activities such as road safety policing, state highways, local roads, public transport and other modes of transport.

Strategic direction of the GPS 2018

The four strategic priorities are: safety, access, environment and value for money. Safety and access are the key strategic priorities for the Government and reflect the transport system that they are striving for. These key priorities are supported by the priorities of environment and value for money.

This contrasts with National’s policy statement which had economic growth and productivity as the top priority, followed by safety and value for money.

The overall plan

The report states that there will be a funding increase of 46 per cent on public transport to expand the routes available and subsidies for public transport.

$4 billion will be allocated over the next ten years to establish rapid transit investment, such as light rail, initially focusing on Auckland, but would ramp up over time.

The GPS supports investment in safety improvements on state highways and local roads. It supports targeting investment at roads and roadsides that will have the greatest impact on reducing deaths and serious injuries.

The money for regional roads will double from around $90 million a year to $180 million a year in 2019/2020 and up to $210 million for four years after that.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said it is an important step to making roads safer to reduce the road toll.

“We’re going to invest in what makes the most difference – regional and local roads and targeted improvements to the State Highway network.”

“The previous Government did not spend enough on road safety and instead wasted funds on a few low-value motorway projects. This has created an imbalance in what is funded with a few roads benefiting at the expense of other areas.”

Fuel tax increases

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Labour was seeking feedback on proposed fuel tax increases of between 9 and 12 cents a litre to fund its transport proposals.

The tax would be a double whammy for Aucklanders, who can also expect Auckland Council to introduce about 10 cents a litre in regional fuel taxes to pay for major transport projects.

Ardern said National leader Bridges had been told that to meet National’s ambitions, they would need a fuel levy increase of 10-20 cents a litre.

Ardern said the Government was prioritising safety and investing in roads neglected by the former government.
“What you won’t see is investment in a small number of dual carriage highways while local roads and other transport options suffer.”

Incorporating technology and innovation 

Technology is changing many aspects of our lives – and transport is no exception. Transport technologies have the potential to respond to a number of transport challenges by significantly improving, and in some cases transforming, the way people travel, and how freight and services are moved on our network. 

Existing, new and emerging technologies can support the creation of a safer, more efficient and effective transport system. This can be done by having safer and more efficient vehicles, improved access to transport information, and a more connected transport system that provides new ways of managing and optimising how we use what we already have.

Transport technologies and new business models have significant potential to make a positive impact on our environment – making it more liveable, sustainable and resilient.

This will likely involve increasing our ability to use technology to provide the public with better transport services, and provide the infrastructure and services to support electric, connected and autonomous vehicles.

Better access to markets and business areas

This result primarily has an economic focus on goods reaching their destination efficiently. The focus is on national routes where access constraints at specific points are limiting business productivity.

Generally, New Zealand’s existing road network is reasonably well developed and provides a high level of access for light and heavy vehicles at a national and local level.

However, moving goods by road may not be the best option. We need to consider providing a higher level of access to markets via rail or coastal shipping. This increased access may reduce other costs such as greenhouse gas emissions, deaths and serious injuries.

Reduce transport’s negative effects on the global climate

Reducing the accumulative effects of transport on the environment, such as those caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

The Government is committed to taking decisive action on climate change and setting a more ambitious emissions reduction target for 2050.

An improvement in the vehicles and fuels that are used, such as promoting greater uptake of low-emission and electric vehicles.


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PM announces Zero Carbon Act

Jacinda Ardern announced that the Government will start to lay the framework for a Zero Carbon Act and establish an independent climate change commission alongside Green Party co-leader James Shaw. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Post Cabinet Press Conference with Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw.

“This is a big task and the transition will take decades. Climate change challenges us to make fundamental changes to our economy and we have a moral responsibility to do that in a way that brings people and communities along with us,” Shaw said. 

“By the end of this Parliament, our goal is to have put in place the framework that will guide our economy toward a net-zero emissions economy by the year 2050.” 
Ardern said consultation would begin from May 2018. It was in the Government’s “100-day plan” to set the carbon zero goal. The consultation period would also mean deciphering what the independent Climate Commission would carry out, however the interim commission, that is already in place, was expected to begin preparing advice for the Government from March. 

“The interim committee could start by looking at agriculture, which contributes almost half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, and how we can transition to 100 per cent renewable electricity,” said Shaw.”We’ve always been really clear we do, as a nation, need to transition. What we’ve had in our first few weeks are a couple of issues come to us where we’ve realised we’ve actually, as a Government, had no discretion on some of the decisions we’ve had put before us to take into account things like environmental impacts,” Ardern said. 

James Shaw, the Greens’ co-leader

The recommendations from the commissioner’s report, released in July this year, included an act similar to Britain’s Climate Change Act and enshrining targets into law.

What the targets should be was not specified.

“Putting our new climate change target into law will hold the Government to account and place New Zealand in a small group of countries who aspire to net-zero emissions in the next few decades,” Shaw said.

 The Government announcement has been met with a mixed response, with Greenpeace saying that the Government’s refusal to rule out fossil fuel expansion undermines the interim commission. The PSA, Public Service Association, welcomes the announcement, “Climate change will have a profound impact on New Zealand, and PSA members recognise it will fundamentally change the nature of the work they do,” says PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay. “We look forward to working with the government and others on this.”

The Zero Carbon Bill is planned to be introduced by October 2018.

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National, Labour show their hands on transport policy

As the general election draws nearer and nearer, the two major parties vying for leadership have shown marked differences in their transport policies, outlining different sets of priorities and funding allocations.

Where National intends to continue funding investment in the state highway and regional road network, Labour has indicated that if elected, they would place most of its investment in inter-regional rail and light rail for Auckland.

Labour’s rhetoric on transportation policy has focused on easing congestion, improvements to usability and liveability, economic development and the environment. National emphasises productivity and growth, safety and congestion relief as the predominant benefits of its programme.

Bill English and Jacinda Adern at last night’s Press Leaders Debate in Christchurch. Source:

National has today confirmed its previous announcement that will deliver a $10.5 billion addition to the state highway network through a revamped Roads of National Significance programme, a move that the Auckland Chamber of Commerce says provides much needed certainty for business.

The incumbent government would invest an additional $600 million to improve road safety and repair earthquake-affected Kaikoura roads.

Penlink and the billion dollar Mill Rd project in Auckland will be delivered as state highways under a fouth National term. National has indicated it will also accelerate regional road projects, but has not provided any specifics.

One of Labour’s transport policies, and new leader Jacinda Adern’s first major policy announcement as leader, was that Labour would invest $3.3 billion in light rail and busways in Auckland over the next 20 years. In contrast to National, it would like to dial back the East West Link connecting Auckland’s motorways.

It would also commit $100 million to Christchurch public transport and consider light rail for Wellington, and require KiwiRail to cease de-electrification works.

Labour has committed to quickly rebuilding the Manawatu Gorge Rd.

It is not clear whether planned projects state highway improvements, including the Warkworth to Wellsford Road of National Significance, will be delivered as planned by the current government.

Labour has made more funding available for transport projects of regional importance by doubling the funding range of $70-$140m to $140-$280m.

Labour has not specified funding for cycling and walking, but has indicated that both, along with rail, will be eligible to apply to the National Land Transport Fund for national funding.

National will continue to implement its $333 million cycling programme.

National has also indicated that it will continue to support increased electric vehicle uptake.

A controversial policy announcement from Labour indicates that it will levy a 10 cents per litre fuel tax in Auckland to fund its programme, if elected, where National will fund its investment from existing sources and continue investigating road pricing.

The Tauranga Eastern Link, one of the Roads of National Significance.

Infrastructure NZ chief executive Stephen Selwood says that stark differences in both parties’ policies indicates that transportation is too politicised.

 “We spend tens of millions of dollars every year on complex modelling and evaluation of projects and their benefits which should, in theory, depoliticise transport priorities and deliver the right projects for the job.

“That two such different approaches can be promoted indicates a lack of evidence is present in our decision making,” says Selwood.

Transportation is just one of the issues the two parties are providing New Zealanders with a clear choice on.

With the two parties neck and neck in the polls, the outcome on September 23 could see New Zealanders travelling down one of two very different roads.






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Labour productivity falls in latest stats report

Labour productivity fell 0.7 per cent in the year ending March 2016, StatsNZ said in a report today. Labour inputs increased 3.3 per cent, which is the largest seen since the series began in 1996.

Labour productivity in general has increased by 30 per cent in the last 20 years.

“A growing labour market saw a record rise in labour available to produce goods and services,” national accounts senior manager Gary Dunnet said.

“This strong labour market growth, and annual output growth of 2.8 percent, led to a fall in labour productivity.”

Multifactor productivity decreased 0.4 per cent as input growth eclipsed the output. Multifactor productivity, according to StatsNZ, “captures the effects of unobserved inputs such as technological progress, efficiency gains, and economies of scale.”

Capital productivity was flat, up 0.1 per cent, as capital inputs rose in line with output growth.

In terms of labour productivity by industry, the retail trade, which includes the sale of motor vehicles, had increased 5.3 per cent between 2014 and 2015. Productivity for transport, postal and warehousing, however, fell 3.7 per cent in the same period.

Labour productivity in the financial and insurance services remained stagnant, up 0.5 per cent.

The capital-to-labour ratio index for retail trade was up 1.2 per cent between 2014 and 2015. The transport, postal and warehousing industry fell 4.1 per cent, with financial and insurance services up 3.4 per cent.

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