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Candidates propose transport policy

Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty may have been singing the praises of the Labour Party’s new $20.8 billion land transport policy yesterday, but the region’s contenders for his seat don’t think it’s up to scratch.

The Times-Age spoke to the three other candidates vying to represent Wairarapa in Parliament about Labour’s policy and how their party would do it differently.

National Party candidate Mike Butterick said the policy, partly funded by a 12-cent fuel tax increase, would unleash pain at the pump for Wairarapa people already struggling with the cost of fuel.

“All up, Labour’s plan will see a family with a 60-litre vehicle pay an additional $8 a week for petrol, while Labour will undoubtedly fail to deliver any infrastructure projects it has announced,” Butterick said.

“National will focus on rebuilding our economy to reduce the cost of living, and we won’t even consider increasing petrol taxes until the cost of living is under control.

“We’ll also drive our economic rebuild by delivering infrastructure projects all over the country.”

The National Party has a $24 billion transport policy of its own, which it plans to fund with a combination of reallocated funds from within the National Land Transport Programme, new government investment, and private funding.

Butterick also said National would continue to fund the Lower North Island track and train upgrade project, which secured funding in this year’s budget.

“We’ll stop proposed level crossing closures and will instead upgrade safety, and we’ll stop Labour’s blanket speed limit reductions and focus investment on fixing potholes,” Butterick said.

National would make the changes needed to reinstate the 100kmh speed limit from Featherston to Masterton.

“Our region deserves better roads, not slower roads.”

Green Party candidate Celia Wade-Brown said Labour’s policy lacks sufficient public transport investment.

“The government’s decision to prioritise new roads is the opposite of what this country needs right now,” she insisted.

“Wairarapa deserves a balanced transport network with rail and buses connecting more people where they want to go, not more urban motorways in Auckland, Tauranga and Wellington.”

Wade-Brown said the Green Party would transform the public transport network and create safer walking and cycling in towns, so parents don’t need to drive their children everywhere.

National and Labour’s plans to spend billions on new roads suggest they aren’t serious about climate change action, she said.

“More lanes to the planes, as National prefers, will do nothing to address congestion through Wairarapa towns and over the Remutaka Hill.”

In contrast, the Greens would invest in nationwide passenger rail and coastal shopping for freight to connect regions and ports.

“Our message is clear: if people want real action on climate change and long-term, transformational investment in public transport, the only option is Party Vote Green,” Wade-Brown said.

“More Green MPs in government will mean we can finally direct decision-making towards frequent, reliable and affordable buses and trains.”

ACT candidate Simon Casey said his party would change the way roads are funded by establishing public-private partnerships [PPPs] with large, global infrastructure developers and investors for new-build and long-term lease arrangements.

Casey said ACT would also make it easier for the government to build transport infrastructure through local and international private investment funds.

“Through the use of PPPs and a rewrite of the resource management act, Wairarapa could see improvements such as a bypass of Greytown and Carterton delivered much sooner than is otherwise possible,” he said.

“If the business case stacks up, a road tunnel through the Remutaka Hill could become a reality rather than a vague dream.”

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Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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