28 Apr 2023

Road transport industry says roading investment strategy desperately needed

10:52 am on 28 April 2023
State Highway 25.

State Highway 25 between Opoutere and Hikuai on the Coromandel Peninsula after it was closed last month due to further subsidence. Photo: Thames Coromandel District Council / Supplied

A national roading strategy is needed address current problems with the poor roading network but also to plan for preventative work, road transport operators say.

Roading is likely to be a big ticket item in the Budget, with flood damage costs expecting to total up to 14.5 billion - half of which will be spent on infrastructure, including roads.

The National Road Carriers Association wants a 50 year roading plan, saying the road network is in poor shape and an investment strategy is desperately needed.

Its chief executive Justin Tighe-Umbers said the key was where the money was spent.

"So we've obviously still got communities cut off in Coromandel, East Cape, Northland - they're doing it incredibly hard, business is hanging by a thread and truckies are really struggling to keep them stocked in a cost-effective way."

The money needs to be spent urgently to address this and the approach that was taken with the Kaikōura slip several years ago was very effective and should be done here too, he said.

It was also vital to keep up with maintenance spending to avoid getting to this point in the first place, he said.

"We're still getting less than half of maintenance done each year that we need to, so we're just increasing the problem further down the road."

The trucking industry was prepared to pay for the roading network via mechanisms like road taxes but it needed to be a quality, workable outcome which it currently was not, he said.

New Zealand was very reliant on the roading network due to its terrain and population size and that would continue in the future, he said.

"Ninety-three percent of our goods are delivered by roads and that's because they're the most effective way to do it in this country. Rail will have a part to play but it will be on the fringes of that 93 percent."

The roading network underpins New Zealand's economy by allowing the country to migrate to a low carbon and carbon-free economy, he said.

"All of the goods to get us there need to be transported through roads and building better roads actually reduces carbon emissions because you improve traffic flows as well."

Ironically the roading network would play an important part towards the country's move towards a lower carbon economy, he said.

BusinessNZ seeks Budget policies that will enhance productivity, reduce inflation

BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope said business wanted to see policies which would enhance productivity and ultimately reduce inflation.

In practical terms that would include measures such as funding Immigration NZ to help increase its processing capacity "because we need to prioritise skills", he said.

Immigrants could be approved to enter New Zealand, but if Immigration did not have the processing capacity that needed to be addressed, he said.

"Similarly we'd like to see money put into the education sector so the skills can quickly be developed onshore as well," Kirk said.

"What we want is a good balance of increasing skills within the country both through education in the education system including the vocational training system and for people who want to come and live and work in New Zealand through the immigration system."

The elephant in the room was whether the government would end up taxing unrealised gains, he said.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins ruled out introducing a capital gains tax in this year's Budget, but Hope said people wanted clarity and certainty beyond that.

"If I've got to pay for an unrealised capital gain next year or the year after if Labour is part of the next government, I want to know that now."

Money in the Budget needed to be prioritised, he said.

"What we're really keen to see in this Budget, as I said, is ruthless prioritisation of money that will go towards reducing inflation so not stuff that is going to increase inflation because resources are scarce so if the government is consuming those resources it makes it harder to reduce inflation."

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