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19th April 2018

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Month: April 2018

Coastal Bulk Shipping increasing cargo business through Whanganui Port

Coastal Bulk Shipping operator Doug Smith is optimistic the company can develop its bulk cargo operations.
Coastal Bulk Shipping operator Doug Smith is optimistic the company can develop its bulk cargo operations.

Doug Smith runs Coastal Bulk Shipping, a company he and a “family” of relatives and friends have owned since 2010.

The company owns and operates the MV Anatoki, a small Whanganui-based vessel that moves bulk cargo between ports around New Zealand.

Mr Smith says the business is growing and there is significant potential for further growth.

“For the calendar year to the end of December we moved slightly over 20,000 tons of cargo.

“We picked up some business as a result of the Kaikoura earthquake [which took out road and rail links] but we have continued to build on that cargo. For the first three months of this year we have done over 7000 tons of cargo and that’s with the South Island’s road and rail back in full swing.

“We’re working on some significant potential growth and working to develop the cargo.”

The Anatoki primarily brings grain up from the South Island, transports dolomite from Golden Bay and takes urea from Kapuni to various South Island ports. It also transports about 100,000 posts per year to Marlborough vineyards.

“The main change has been the northbound grain and dolomite is starting to build again,” Mr Smith said.

“Dolomite will be coming through as chip and be processed for aerial spreading. These are niche markets that we are trying to continue to develop.

“River ports were the mainstay of ports in New Zealand 100 years ago but now Whanganui is the only river port currently operating. Its history is significant as far as maritime people in New Zealand are concerned.

“I’m sure west coast ports will start moving forward in the not-too-distant future and hope we will be part of that.”

The planned redevelopment of the port should have little impact on Coastal Bulk Shipping.

“The [Whanganui District] Council needs some credit – most councils in New Zealand wouldn’t have spent the money they did on the port,” Mr Smith said.

“Some of the smaller towns with ports have walked away from them. The council has enabled us to have some faith in the ongoing viability of the port and develop our cargo around that.”

Reactivating the rail line at the port would make sense and would significantly reduce the impact of road transport to move cargo but was not currently likely to happen, Mr Smith said.

MV Anatoki
MV Anatoki is a “handy little ship” which has its own following on Facebook and always attracts onlookers when it comes in and out over the Whanganui bar.

It is 51m long and can carry 800 tons of heavy bulk cargo – the equivalent of about 26 truck and trailer units. The 7000 tons of cargo moved so far this year equates to 233 truck and trailer loads.

The Anatoki is the only small coastal ship left in New Zealand and is able to negotiate shallow harbours such as Whanganui.

The ship is currently transporting dolomite from Bluff to Napier. It will then take fertiliser to Timaru and return with a load of barley.

Twyford says there is a “great deal of interest” in investing in New Zealand’s transport infrastructure

Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has sent a clear message to would-be investors in New Zealand’s transport infrastructure – “the Government is open for business.”

He is sending Associate Transport Minister Shane Jones on a fact-finding mission to Australia tomorrow to investigate the best ways investors can work with the Government on public-private partnerships (PPP).

“The message from our Government is we’re open for business,” Twyford said after addressing a business and local Government summit on the “changing direction in transport for New Zealand.”

Twyford says it is likely projects, such as Auckland’s light rail and rapid transit, will be funded in collaboration with the private sector through PPPs.

He says it’s too early to put a figure on how much the Government is expecting private capital providers to stump up with but says it’s likely to be on “multiple billion-dollar projects.”

Twyford says there has been a “great deal of interest” from parties looking at getting involved in a PPP with the Government.

“We’re very happy to work with private capital to make these big investments.”

The Government has previously indicated it would be looking at PPPs as a way to meet some of its investment expectations but, at the moment, the process for investors is too complex.

This is the reason Jones is heading off to Australia tomorrow.

“We need to configure ourselves better within the state so there is less static when either foreign or domestic investors approach the state to play a role in our infrastructure turbocharging,” Jones says.

 

But PPPs would require more debt from the Government.

Twyford says there are options when it comes to new revenue streams to help pay for this – for example, through land value capture and infrastructure bonds.

But the projects would be long-term and, according to Twyford, it would be “nuts to try and pay for it out of next year’s road user charges or a petrol tax.”

“We should be spreading that debt over multiple generations who are going to benefit from the infrastructure.”

But taking on more debt would be problematic.

As it stands, some of New Zealand’s council’s – including Auckland’s – are close to their debt limits and the Government has committed to reducing net core Crown debt levels to 20% of GDP by 2021/22.

But Twyford says there is a way the Government could take on more debt to fund the PPPs without abandoning its debt target and pushing councils over its limit.

“We intend to build on some of the work that was done by the previous Government in establishing Crown infrastructure partners as a special purpose vehicle.

“It’s a balance sheet that’s not council or Governments – it’s a public purpose hybrid if you like.”

He says through this, a lot of capital could be borrowed to pay for the infrastructure needs the country is facing.

Are ships more polluting than Germany?

The shipping industry is meeting in London to formulate a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

By some estimates, the international shipping industry produces as much carbon dioxide (CO2) as Germany.

Reality Check looks at the data behind this comparison and from where all this pollution is coming.

Engines on the world’s biggest ships can be as tall as a four-storey house, and as wide as three London buses. So a lot of fuel is required, which in turn creates a large amount of CO2.

Carbon dioxide is an example of a greenhouse gas. The greenhouse gas effect is the process of gases like CO2 trapping warmth in the atmosphere and heating up the planet.

International shipping accounts for about 2.2% of all global greenhouse gas emissions and 2.1% of CO2 emissions, according to the UN International Maritime Organisation’s most recent data.

Germany’s CO2 and overall greenhouse emissions account for about 2.2% and 1.9% of the world’s total respectively, according to European Commission’s most up-to-date figures – about the same percentages as the international shipping industry.

A country by country comparison can also be used as a device to demonstrate the scale of pollution in the shipping industry.

According to the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), an independent environmental research organisation, international shipping produced 812 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2015.

The ICCT said that if treated as a country, international shipping would be the sixth largest emitter of CO2 in 2015.

They pointed to a list of the top polluting countries compiled by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, part of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure. Public Works and Water Management, which puts international shipping as the sixth largest emitter of CO2.

The ICCT and Environmental Assessment Agency research both focused on CO2 produced by energy use and the ICCT said it removed domestic and fishing vessels, which would be covered by a country’s own count of emissions.

The IMO is also addressing the amount of sulphur in fuel oil used on board ships. It says a reduction in sulphur oxides that emanate from a ship should have significant environmental health benefits.

The World Shipping Council, an industry body, also says it is engaged in efforts to reduce CO2 and is “working to secure a global agreement addressing CO2 emissions from ships through the International Maritime Organization”.

International shipping is a catch-all term for shipping between ports of different countries and so excludes domestic transportation. There are many different types of vessels and each produces different levels of CO2.

The largest producers according to the ICCT are the biggest vessels; container ships, followed by the bulk carrier and the oil tanker. Container ships account for about one fifth of all emissions.

However, modern ships are designed to slide through the water more efficiently than older ones or are built to operate at lower speeds to save fuel.

For example, the largest of the Maersk container ships are reported to be 35% more fuel efficient than older, smaller vessels, according to Marine Insight.

Battery power is already being used on some ferries in Scotland and Norway and there are more radical Japanese plans for hi-tech sails to power cargo ships, says the BBC’s science editor David Shukman.

It is common for a ship to be registered under the state flag of a country that is different to the country of the ship owner.

It’s a process called flags of convenience and allows ships to sail under the maritime regulations of the flag they are registered under. On offer is access to cheaper labour and low taxes.

Many of the world’s ships sail under the Panamanian flag and most of the world fleet sail under the flags of developing nations, according to the IMO.

The top five ship-owning countries are Greece, Japan, China, Germany and Singapore.
Source: BBC

Shanghai world’s busiest container port: report

Shanghai was the world’s busiest container port in 2017, according to a report by shipping consultancy service Alphaliner. Shanghai handled a total of 40 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) last year, an 8.3 percent increase from the previous year.

Singapore took second place, followed by Shenzhen, which ranked third on the list with 25 million TEU. Ningbo and Hong Kong were another two ports in China that made it into the top 10.

The Alphaliner report also says that, thanks to the recovery in the global economy, the world’s busiest container ports enjoyed a 5 percent increase and recorded a total volume of 600 million TEU in 2017.
Source: ECNS

New Zealand Transport Agency Chair appointed

Transport Minister Phil Twyford today announced the appointment of Michael Stiassny as Chair of the New Zealand Transport Agency Board.

Michael Stiassny has been appointed for a term of three years commencing on 19 April 2018.

“Michael Stiassny has a wealth of governance, leadership and financial knowledge having been involved in governance and corporate positions for the past three decades,” Phil Twyford says.

The NZ Transport Agency’s core functions are to plan and invest in New Zealand’s land transport networks through the National Land Transport Programme.

“This Government has a transformative agenda to rebalance the transport system toward better safety, access and value for money, along with more investment in regional and local roads and rail.

“The NZ Transport Agency has a crucial role to play in creating a modern and sustainable transport network across land transport modes. Michael Stiassny brings strong and decisive leadership to the Board.

“I’d like to thank Dame Fran Wilde who’s been acting chair over the past three months and acknowledge the contribution of Chris Moller who stood down in January,” Phil Twyford says.

Lyttelton Port issued with further strike notice

Statement from LPC

Lyttelton Port has today received a further notice of strike action for 26 April to 29 April by the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) for approximately 11 Marine staff. Strike action by this small group will close the Port.

LPC will therefore pay none of RMTU’s 191 members for the days – or any other day(s) the Company receives a strike notice for.

LPC Chief Executive Peter Davie says the Company has no option but to take this course of action.

“What is particularly disruptive about the strike notice served today is that it is for only a very small number of RMTU members – just approximately 11 of its 191 members at the Port. The approximate 11 striking RMTU members operate the launch which delivers our pilots to vessels when they arrive at the head of the harbour and must have pilot guidance to reach our Port.

When the RMTU members who operate the launch go on strike, the Pilots can’t reach the vessels so ships cannot get in or out of the Port. That means there is no shipping. The approximate 180 RMTU members not striking know that. They intend to come to work, do nothing and get paid.

“This tactic will not work.

“I want to make this very clear. The RMTU strike notice may be for only approximately 11 of its members but none of its 191 members will be paid for any day for which we receive a strike notice.

“We are taking this step as a direct response to the Union’s tactic of causing maximum disruption to customers and businesses in the region while trying to ensure its members don’t lose money.

“The Union has refused our very generous offer which is well above inflation.

This offer is well above recent RMTU settlements with other New Zealand Ports.

“The dispute is about only one thing – the RMTU wants a better settlement than the other major Union at our Port – the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ).

“The RMTU claims it wants the same offer we made MUNZ – but it has rejected it. The RMTU members want the same salary increases as MUNZ but they will not make the roster changes MUNZ agreed to as part of their offer.

“RMTU members have already lost more pay than their negotiators can possibly recover for them – and the longer the Union refuses our offer the more its members will lose.

“Meanwhile the Union’s tactics are causing significant disruption to shipping lines, importers, exporters and our region.

“We remain committed to resolving the dispute but do not see any justification for amending our very generous offer.”

 

Shipping faces demands to cut CO2

Container shipImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

A battle is under way to force the global shipping industry to play its part in tackling climate change.

A meeting of the International Maritime Organisation in London next week will face demands for shipping to radically reduce its CO2 emissions.

If shipping doesn’t clean up, it could contribute almost a fifth of the global total of CO2 by 2050.

A group of nations led by Brazil, Saudi Arabia, India, Panama and Argentina is resisting CO2 targets for shipping.

Their submission to the meeting says capping ships’ overall emissions would restrict world trade. It might also force goods on to less efficient forms of transport.

This argument is dismissed by other countries which believe shipping could actually benefit from a shift towards cleaner technology.

The UK’s Shipping Minister Nusrat Ghani told BBC News: “As other sectors take action on climate change, international shipping could be left behind.

“We are urging other members of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to help set an ambitious strategy to cut emissions from ships.”

Trade and prosperity

The UK is supported by other European nations in a proposal to shrink shipping emissions by 70%-100% of their 2008 levels by 2050.

Guy Platten from the UK Chamber of Shipping said: “We call on the global shipping industry to get behind these proposals – not just because it is in their interests to do so, but because it is the right thing to do.

“The public expects us all to take action, they understand that international trade brings prosperity, but they rightly demand it is conducted in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. We must listen to those demands, and the time for action is now.”

ContainersImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

The problem has developed over many years. As the shipping industry is international, it evades the carbon-cutting influence of the annual UN talks on climate change, which are conducted on a national basis.

Instead the decisions have been left to the IMO, a body recently criticised for its lack of accountability and transparency.

The IMO did agree a design standard in 2011 ensuring that new ships should be 30% more efficient by 2025. But there is no rule to reduce emissions from the existing fleet.

The Clean Shipping Coalition, a green group focusing on ships, said shipping should conform to agreement made in Paris to stabilise the global temperature increase as close as possible to 1.5C.

Tangible goals

A spokesman said: “The Paris temperature goals are absolute objectives. They are not conditional on whether the global economy thinks they are achievable or not.”

So the pressure is on the IMO to produce an ambitious policy. The EU has threatened that if the IMO doesn’t move far enough, the EU will take over regulating European shipping. That would see the IMO stripped of some of its authority.

A spokesman for the Panamanian government told BBC News his nation supports the Paris Agreement.

“But”, he said, “Panama, as a developing country that depends on the maritime sector for its progress, and aware that the welfare of its population relies on shipping, believes in the necessity of a well though-out and studied strategy that allows sustainable and efficient reduction of emissions.

“To haste into an uncalculated strategy that aims to reduce emissions to zero by the year 2050 does not take into account the current state of technology.”

A recent report from the International Transport Forum at the rich nations’ think tank the OECD said maximum deployment of currently known technologies could achieve almost complete decarbonisation of maritime shipping by 2035.

A spokesperson for another of the nations resisting targets told BBC News: “My country pushed very hard to get the deal in Paris. But you will notice that many of the countries opposing the restrictions on CO2 are developing countries that are distant from some of their markets.”

Campaigners say huge improvements in CO2 emissions from existing ships can be easily be made by obliging them to travel more slowly. They say a carbon pricing system is needed.

International shipping produces about 1,000 million tonnes of CO2 annually – that’s more than the entire German economy.

Cement shipping to move from Auckland to Northland

The Golden Bay cement works at Portland near Whangarei.
The Golden Bay cement works at Portland near Whangarei.

New Zealand’s biggest cement manufacturer and supplier says it will move its shipping services to the South Island from Auckland to Northland.

David Thomas, Fletcher Building chief executive of building products, said Golden Bay Cement had late last year begun shipping cement directly out of Northport at Whangarei.

Around 11 per cent of all cement made in Portland will eventually be shipped to the South Island directly from Northport.

Previously, the cement had been shipped directly from Portland to Auckland where pods were filled at the Eastport facility – the large white dominant dome-shaped structure on Auckland’s waterfront.

Golden Bay was using Northport’s facilities and a newly-introduced fortnightly coastal shipping service to improve the way it moves cement powder from its plant in Portland near Whangarei, to distribution hubs around the country, Thomas said.

Paul Thorn, GBC Winstone head of cement, said that before the change to Northport last September, cement had been shipped directly from the Portland dock to Auckland.

“So we were effectively double handling the cement for the South Island.”

New Zealand says shipping vital in the process to halt climate change

New Zealand urges the IMO not to miss this opportunity to adopt a workable and effective strategy to bring rising greenhouse gas emissions from shipping under control.


Government Press Release 9 Apr 2018
  • “The IMO strategy also needs to recognise and protect the interests of Pacific Island countries and territories,” said Minister for Climate Change James Shaw. (Image Credit: Pixabay)

New Zealand today released a statement at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Greenhouse Gas reduction strategy negotiations in London, urging IMO member states to work towards a meaningful and effective outcome in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

“With the end of the negotiations imminent, New Zealand urges the IMO not to miss this opportunity to adopt a workable and effective strategy to bring rising greenhouse gas emissions from shipping under control,” Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter said today.”

“The IMO strategy needs to be ambitious with appropriate measures implemented as soon as possible and it needs to apply to all IMO member states and all ships equally, regardless of which state a ship is registered in.”

“Halting climate change and achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement requires countries to work together for fair and ambitious outcomes.”

“New Zealand was proud to sign the Tony de Brum declaration at the One Planet Summit held in Paris last December, confirming that international shipping must play a part in global climate action.”

“Shipping is vital for Pacific countries, including New Zealand, and we all have a part to play ensuring that maritime trade happens in an environmentally friendly way,” said Ms Genter.

“The IMO strategy also needs to recognise and protect the interests of Pacific Island countries and territories,” said Minister for Climate Change James Shaw.

“In particular, this means helping to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees.”

“A recent report by the OECD’s International Transport Forum shows that there are practical steps that can be taken now to reduce shipping emissions and shipping could be almost carbon-free by 2035.”

“We commend the leadership of Pacific Island states in encouraging ambitious outcomes from the IMO negotiations.”

“With very little time remaining before negotiations conclude, New Zealand joins with Pacific Island states in urging all countries to redouble their efforts to ensure the IMO achieves a credible and ambitious result,” said Mr Shaw.

Jacinda Ardern sets out Government’s transport plan, including nationwide fuel tax

KEY POINTS:

  • The Government has released its draft 10-year policy statement on land transport
  • A fuel tax increase of between 9 and 12 cents a litre has been proposed
  • Aucklanders face fuel tax hikes of about 20 cents a litre if the Government’s increases and a regional fuel tax are brought in
  • Funding on public transport will increase by 46 per cent
  • Funding allocated for state highways will be cut by 11 per cent
  • $4 billion will be allocated over 10 years to establish Rapid Transit, such as light rail, initially focusing on Auckland

Aucklanders face a double whammy of fuel tax hikes of about 20 cents a litre if central government fuel levy increases and a regional fuel tax are brought in, but Transport Minister Phil Twyford says he believes Aucklanders understand the need for it.

Auckland Council is expected to introduce about 10 cents a litre in regional fuel taxes to pay for its share of major transport projects and the Government’s new 10-year policy plan for transport proposes a further nationwide increase of 9-12 cents litre over three to four years.

That is to fund projects such as light rail in Auckland and other measures.

Twyford said he believed Aucklanders realised the gridlock that was happening now could not continue and it was not fair to ask those who lived in places like Levin and Whanganui to pay for all of Auckland’s transport woes.

Twyford said other cities would also benefit from rail and rapid transit options, as well as Auckland.

The Government’s new transport plan will cut the funding allocated for state highways by 11 per cent while an initial investment of $4 billion over 10 years will be ploughed into Labour’s plans for light rail in Auckland.

The overall plan

The Government has released its draft 10-year policy statement on land transport – the guide which sets how the Land Transport fund should allocate about $4 billion in funding each year.

It will see funding on public transport increase by 46 per cent to expand the routes available and subsidies for public transport.

On top of that, it sets a new class of Rapid Transit under which $4 billion will be allocated over 10 years to establish rapid transit investment, such as light rail, initially focusing on Auckland. That would ramp up over time.

About four times as much will be spent on expanding cycling and pedestrian pathways than under National.

The money for regional roads will double from about $90 million a year to $180 million a year in 2019/20 and up to $210 million for four years after that.

That comes at a cost for future large-scale motorway upgrades such as National’s policy of $10 billion for 10 further Roads of National Significance.

Instead, Twyford said there will be “targeted” improvements to state highways.

Twyford said it was 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.”

Jacinda Ardern and Phil Twyford answer questions about the proposal. Photo / NZH
Jacinda Ardern and Phil Twyford answer questions about the proposal. Photo / NZH

“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.”

One of Labour’s key election policies was to build light rail from the CBD to the airport and extend that to include routes to the central suburbs and West Auckland over the next decade and then to the North Shore.

It also wanted a bus rapid transit line from the eastern suburb of Howick.

The new statement sets safety as the top priority, followed by access, the environment and value for money.

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

Those with an interest in the plan such as local government, transport bodies and community groups have until May 2 to submit on it.

Petrol levy increases

Twyford said there would be petrol levy increases, but those would be at the lowest end of what National would have needed had its motorway proposals gone ahead.

He said the previous government had not disclosed that transport officials had advised it that petrol levies needed to increase to fund its plans for expressways.

“We’ve chosen to limit increases in petrol levies to the lowest end of [former Transport Minister] Simon Bridges’ range.”

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.

Julie Anne Genter said making it safer for people to walk and cycle was also a priority. Photo / NZH
Julie Anne Genter said making it safer for people to walk and cycle was also a priority. Photo / NZH

She 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.”

Twyford said over Easter eight people had died, the worst road toll in several years.

He said early work by officials suggested $800 million worth of safety improvements that could make a significant difference.

“This shifts policy priorities away from costly white elephants.”

He said transport spending in many regions had decreased under the previous government.

“Half of vehicle journeys are on local roads, yet less than 5 per cent of the funding has been spent on improving them.”

He said the rapid transit network would help free up roads.

“This is the first time spending on rapid transport will take place under the Land Transport Fund.”

It also proposed spending money on rail under the fund for the first time, saying Labour believed all forms of transport should be funded under it.

Phil Twyford said there would be petrol levy increases, but those would be at the lowest end of what National would have needed had its motorway proposals gone ahead. Photo / NZH
Phil Twyford said there would be petrol levy increases, but those would be at the lowest end of what National would have needed had its motorway proposals gone ahead. Photo / NZH

Walking and cycling a priority

Associate Transport Minister Green MP Julie Anne Genter said making it safer for people to walk and cycle was also a priority and it would provide safe cycleways that were separate from vehicle traffic.

The areas around schools would be a focus.

She said every day in Auckland a pedestrian or cyclist was hit by a car and injured or killed.

Regional Development Minister and NZ First MP Shane Jones said he was expecting some backlash from the regions because many had been “fed a line” that motorway upgrades would resolve their problems.

He said KiwiRail was a key part of NZ First’s plans on better freight and tourism offerings so he welcomed its inclusion under the plan.

The Government is also considering allowing coastal shipping to be funded under the fund.

Roads of national significance

Twyford said about seven of National’s Roads of National Significance which were already underway would continue – but the nine further RONS projects it had put up as an election policy were not funded and would not go ahead.

While some work would take place on those roads it would not be to the same extent.

Asked about the proposal to get four lanes through to Whangarei, Jones said he would prefer to see unsafe local roads fixed “rather than this pipe dream that by 2032 we were going to get four lanes through to Whangarei”.

He said the short-term focus was tidying dangerous areas and increasing rail.

Matt Lowrie from transport advocacy group Greater Auckland. Photo / Greg Bowker
Matt Lowrie from transport advocacy group Greater Auckland. Photo / Greg Bowker

Transport groups reply to Government’s new policy

Matt Lowrie from transport advocacy group Greater Auckland said the new plans so far look “very impressive”.

“It is a big step forward from what we have had in the past and giving focus on areas that have been lacking for quite some time – particularly around safety and public transport,” he said.

“The safety one is a big one. We have just had the worst Easter road fatalities for a number of years, and the death toll on our roads is increasing.

“That is a really concerning trend as it had been trending down for a long time before that, so we do need to improve our safety.”

Lowrie said the announcements looked to improve on former government policy.

“A lot of that funding for the last decade was pulled away and put into some really large motorway projects. While they are safe, they are very expensive and sucked a lot of funding away from the necessary projects that can actually help improve safety for a lot of people.

“What I think we are going to see now is a focus on a lot more areas which have actually shown to be working well, particularly safety, where we can safe peoples’ lives and reduce the number of people dying on our roads.”

Lowrie said it was also good to see a strong acknowledgement of public transport funding.

“Some of that is coming through in the form of rapid transit funding – which is light rail and busways – it is the high quality options that are key to driving up public transport use, which is going to make it easier to get around as well.”

Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of the car review website Dog and Lemon, also described the policy as a welcome change of direction.

“The fact is we don’t need new motorways, we need to fix up the roads we already have. It is rural roads where people are dying and it is rural roads where the money needs to be spent so this is plain common sense,” he said.

“Also, the roads with the lowest road toll tend to be the ones with the best public transport systems so it is not just freeing up gridlock, it is actually likely to save lives.”

Although Matthew-Wilson did not agree with fuel taxes, calling them “misguided”.

This view was mirrored by the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union who said the government’s proposal to increase fuel levies breaks Jacinda Ardern’s promise of “no new taxes”.

“Fuel tax is particularly harmful because of its regressive nature – the people it hurts most are poorer families living in fringe suburbs. This will ultimately mean less food on the table,” executive director Jordan Williams said.

“And as if fuel tax hikes didn’t sting enough, the Government is going to be using the revenue to fund cycleways and trams, at the same time they’re slashing funding for highways. In other words, drivers are paying more to receive less.”

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