National’s blind preoccupation with building tarseal highway monuments to Transport Minister Steven Joyce will come at the expense of public transport, road policing and maintenance on local roads, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Shane Jones.
“The road toll might not go up again tomorrow or the next day, but if we don’t maintain local roads to a high standard, and if we don’t place a high priority on road safety, then the bad old days will surely come again, and steady progress in reducing the toll will be reversed,” Shane Jones said.
“Just as disastrously in terms of the future, people in our main centres, particularly Auckland, will see little if any improvement in public transport, and will be forced to drive to work and school on busy urban streets, while huge rigs encroach further and further into our already tragically clogged cities.”
Shane Jones, commenting on the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport Funding 2012, said Mr ‘Tarseal’ Joyce’s fixation with so-called roads of national significance, like the holiday highway north of Puhoi, had won out. “Spending on new highways will go up while funding will be cut or effectively frozen for road safety and policing, public transport and local roads.
“There’s nothing glamorous in maintenance of local roads as far as Mr Joyce is concerned,” Shane Jones said. “But these local roads are the lifeblood of our provinces and our rural hinterland. There could be no clearer sign that National takes the rural and provincial vote for granted.
“There are already too many white crosses on the sides of local roads, but Mr Joyce seems unable to make the connection between maintaining these roads and road safety. More likely, he isn’t interested in doing so.
“While local authorities around the country will face a far greater burden in the future trying to preserve their own roads of genuine local significance, the super authorities like Auckland must be in despair at National’s lack of any sort of vision for public transport,” Shane Jones said.
“Steven Joyce is a man of incredible tunnel vision, but all the tunnels are under his fancy highways. Under Mr Joyce, we face a dangerously unbalanced transport future.”