1.1 This submission in response to the Draft Government Policy Statement on Land Transport is made by The New Zealand Initiative (the Initiative), a Wellington-based think tank supported primarily by major New Zealand businesses. In combination, our members employ more than 150,000 people.
1.2 The Initiative undertakes research that contributes to the development of sound public policies in New Zealand and the creation of a competitive, open and dynamic economy and a free, prosperous, fair and cohesive society.
1.3 The Initiative’s members span the breadth of the New Zealand economy; a well-functioning transport system is important to them. The views expressed in this submission are the views of the author, not those of our members.
1.4 We do not aim to comment on all aspects of the Draft GPS. An incoming Government will likely have very different priorities from the current Government, regardless of whether Labour or National leads that Government. In-depth examination of any of the issues here seems futile when there is little chance that the current Draft will hold for the next three-year period.
1.5 That the Draft GPS is likely to shift considerably unless the election results in a second Labour majority is itself a substantial problem for the transport system. It points to a larger, high-level problem that needs to be addressed.
1.6 In summary, we submit:
(a) Transport funding has become dysfunctional;
(b) Coherent transport planning is difficult when a GPS has six separate objectives;
(c) The current system inflates the cost of delivering transport infrastructure because priorities and funding are set by Ministers’ preferences, which change with changes in government;
(d) Ministerial direction is an inevitable consequence of a shift away from a system based on payments by road users. Crown funding comes with Crown direction;
(e) Any incoming government should continue current funding arrangements over a short transitional period while fundamental reform of the land transport system is undertaken;
(f) The 1998 Better Transport Better Roads model should be the starting point for a redesign of the transport system.