Three thousand truck and heavy vehicle certifications have been revoked this year, compared to just five in total two years ago.
New figures show 67 heavy vehicle owners have had low safety risks identified in towing connections since last December. Photo: 123rf.com
The surge began last year when 2000 were revoked and is mostly pegged to the belated detection of poor work by two certifying engineers in Nelson and Auckland, Peter Wastney and Patrick Chu, according to the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).
It expected numbers to drop “dramatically” once it finished investigations that had gone on for two years and as it carried on with more rigourous monitoring, NZTA said.
Numbers of heavy vehicle certifications revoked
1 Dec 2018 to present: 3186
1 Dec 2017 to 31 Nov 2018: 2103
1 Dec 2016 to 31 Nov 2017: 5
Other new figures show 67 heavy vehicle owners have had low safety risks identified in towing connections since last December, and been told to get them checked.
Ten light vehicle owners had risks around repairs detected, and half of these certifications were revoked.
And 71,000 vehicle owners were alerted to potential safety risks related to a warrant of fitness issued by a suspended garage.
Sixteen thousand owners were contacted about a product recall over airbag risks.
The agency also elaborated on its investigation of chassis problems with trucks that followed on from the towing connection investigations, saying it told its licensed certifiers to submit files under its earlier regulatory compliance review that ended in mid-2019.
“These files formed the basis of the desktop review that is ongoing, and the basis for certain vehicle inspections, which are ongoing”.
Also, minimum standards for such files were introduced this year, and it was reviewing files to check on that.
There are many interesting findings, too many to list here. But in a nutshell comparing 2017/18 with the previous report period in 2012, rail volume decreased 17% (partly due to the Kaikoura earthquake), and domestic sea freight volume increased 12%.
Overall billions of tonne/km increased 10.5% from 29.51 to 32.62.
The Government will inject the New Zealand Transport Agency with an extra $45 million after an independent report concluded it had failed in one of its major responsibilities.
But the Government blames National for the failures in the transport sector that led to Transport Minister Phil Twyford commissioning an independent report investigating NZTA.
The review, undertaken by agency Martin Jenkins, found that previous transport ministers had directed NZTA to “focus on building roads” at the expense of keeping people safe.
The report also found that NZTA had failed to properly regulate the transport sector under the previous Government.
In response to the review, the Government has confirmed it will adopt all of its recommendations and plans to implement them as soon as possible.
The recommendations include:
• Injecting NZTA with an extra $45 million to help bolster its regulatory obligations • Create a statutory Director of Land Transport who is responsible for carrying out NZTA’s regulatory functions and powers • Getting NZTA’s board to develop a new regulatory strategy • Instructing the Ministry of Transport to update the NZTA’s regulatory objectives
Twyford said these changes would help to equip NZTA for the massive transformation the agency will undergo in the coming years.
Ministry of Transport chief executive Peter Mersi welcomed the report and its findings this morning.
“As [the] monitor of transport Crown agencies, we share responsibility for the regulatory failure.”
He said the report was a “wake-up call” for the ministry.
In November last year, Twyford directed the Ministry of Transport to review the performance NZTA’s regulatory functions.
The review comes on the back of a number of concerns which emerged around NZTA’s regulatory function and a backlog of compliance cases that have not been properly managed.
“When this issue was brought to my attention I was seriously concerned about the scope and seriousness of the failures that have occurred,” Twyford said at the time.
Petrol prices in New Zealand are yet to return to levels experienced prior to an air strike on a Saudi Arabian oil facility a month ago.
On September 15, drones were used to attack oil processing facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia causing the price of Brent crude, one of two global benchmark prices for oil, to jump US$6.45 (NZ$10.23) to trade at US$66.67 a barrell (159 litres).
One month on from the attacks and New Zealanders are still paying more for petrol despite oil prices dropping below pre-attack levels weeks ago. On Saturday Brent crude traded at US$60.69.
Larry Green from petrol price comparison app Gaspy said before the attack the national average price of 91 unleaded in New Zealand was $2.16.
After the attack it spiked to $2.22. On Monday the national average was $2.19.
Green said petrol companies were quick to hike their prices in response to the attack but slow to return them to pre-attack levels.
“Price rise very quickly and are very slow to come down,” Green said.
Z and BP said there were a number of factors that influenced the price of fuel, oil prices being just one of them.
Z spokeswoman Victoria Crockford said its prices were determined by a range of factors that changed daily, including but not limited to the cost of crude oil, foreign exchange rates, the cost of transport, the cost of site infrastructure and maintenance and local competition in the area.
“So, while Brent Crude is a natural indicator for people to look to, and one we use in our overall equation, it is by no means a ‘cent for cent’ process in terms of our everyday pricing – neither when prices go up, nor when they go down,” Crockford said.
She said the cost to freight crude oil from the Middle East to New Zealand had increased up to 3 per cent off the back of US sanctions on Iran that implicated a large Chinese shipping company which shipped 3 per cent of global freight.
BP spokeswoman Anna Radich said its prices were reviewed every day to ensure they were as competitive as possible.
AA petrol spokesman Mark Stockdale said tracking petrol price movements was difficult because there was such variation across the country.
“There’s just so much regional price disparity,” Stockdale said.
“The market is much harder to monitor than it used to be as a result of the increasing level of price competition within regions and between regions.”
In some parts of the country prices hadn’t changed since before the Saudi attack, he said.
The price of refined petrol was disparate from the commodity price, he said.
“It’s much more closely linked to competitive behaviour.”
The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment carries out weekly monitoring of importer margins for petrol.
The importer margin is the gross margin available to fuel retailers to cover domestic transportation, distribution and retailing costs in New Zealand, as well as profit margins.
The provisional weekly average importer margin for the first week of October was 27.62 cents per litre, compared to 27.95c per litre a month ago, showing margins had dropped slightly since the Saudi oil strike.
Pacifica are proud to announce that our new vessel Moana Chief, sailed into Auckland this week on her delivery voyage to begin a new life dedicated to the NZ coast. We plan to phase her into service this week commencing with voyage 4132 departing Auckland Friday 20 September which will coincide with the departure of Spirit of Canterbury. The Moana Chief brings over 50% greater capacity than SPOC (1700 teu Vs 1100 teu) and will operate on the same fixed day weekly schedule ; rotating Auckland →Lyttleton →Nelson →Tauranga . Pacifica’s introduction of additional capacity is a significant investment and commitment from our parent company Swire , and is a response to the growing demand for reliable access to the “Blue Highway” connecting key North & South Island ports .
As N.Z’s only dedicated weekly coastal carrier Pacifica are uniquely placed to offer a sustainable year-round solution for your wharf/wharf or door/door FCL shipments. We also take this opportunity to pay tribute to the mighty SPOC for years of dependable service ; she never missed a beat during the hundreds of voyages around N.Z and we wish her continued smooth sailings in her next deployment.
Auckland Light Rail plan questioned by National MP
The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has defended its plans for light rail in Auckland.
The new Government’s decision to scrap roading projects has led to $3.5 billion of state highway infrastructure going unbuilt, which might be a drag on economic growth. Thomas Coughlan reports.
New Zealanders are feeling the pain of billions of dollars in fuel taxes, but not reaping the benefits of better roads, and that could be putting the brakes on the economy.
With National’s 10 “Roads of National Significance” effectively in a holding pattern, Treasury is concerned that NZTA is unable to spend all the money it taxes, which is dragging down economic growth.
The $2 billion the NZTA collects in fuel taxes is usually spent on building new roads.
But the new Government’s decision to redirect money into road safety and public transport has meant $3.5 billion less will be spent on new state highways, according to documents released under the OIA.
It’s also stalled its building programme for “12 to 18 months” while it comes to terms with the Government’s changes.
Infometrics economist Brad Olsen said the transport spending was a “brake on the economy”.
And Treasury agrees lower spending is concerning.
It said industry was concerned about the 12 to 18-month stall in construction projects while the new Government was revising its transport priorities.
There are 12 large roading projects which Treasury says are “market-ready”, but these have been effectively scrapped under the new Government’s pivot away from highway investment, although only two of the ten Roads of National Significance were fully funded before the election.
Treasury is concerned that when the last of National’s projects wrap-up, there won’t be any new projects ready to replace them.
It said around $4.8 billion worth of “major projects” are due to be completed in the next two years, but there are only $1 billion worth of new projects getting ready to start.
That means there’s $3.8 billion worth of construction projects that aren’t ready to go when the current round finish.
This means the workforce on those projects may leave the construction industry, or move offshore, possibly to Australia where the Government has announced a $100 billion transport infrastructure package.
Olsen said this was particularly concerning, because when the new Government’s projects were finally at the stage they could be built, there might not be the workforce ready to build them.
“Noone will be ready for it,” he said.
The NZTA’s accounts also show that it’s struggling to spend all the money it collects. While it’s managed to collect nearly $1.5 billion in fuel taxes this year, it has struggled to spend anything near what it planned to.
Why this matters
New infrastructure investment acts as economic stimulus, as the money spent works its way through the economy and better infrastructure improves productivity.
But if the Government collects this money in taxes without spending it properly, it acts as a drag on the economy, slowing growth.
New infrastructure also helps to absorb the impact of a growing population. This is something New Zealand has struggled to do for a decade.
Research by ANZ found that new infrastructure spending for each additional 1000 people New Zealand adds to its population fell from $142 million in 2011/12 to just $37m in 2016/17.
The Government has tried to respond to this by building an “infrastructure pipeline” which essentially lists the projects it wants to build so that they’re ready to go when needed. It’s also committed to spending $42 billion on infrastructure over the next five years.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford said that the Government was planning to spend more on transport than the last Government.
“Our Government is spending more than ever before on transport – around $4 billion a year,” Twyford said.
He said the new Government was delivering a “different mix of projects”.
“Because of our commitment to rebalance transport spending and invest more in safety, local roads, rail, public transport and walking and cycling, and demand more value for money, there are fewer new four lane expressways planned than was the case under the former government.
“Under our Government, there is a bigger infrastructure pipeline in place with more capital spending, it’s just a different mix of projects,” he said.
But while the Government had promised more spending, it was having difficulty getting the money out the door.
Olsen said the problem isn’t so much the money that’s been promised, it’s the lack of projects that are ready to go.
He said there needed to be more emphasis on getting projects “shovel-ready”.
“Where is the plan for now?” he said.
The Government’s announced on Thursday that its Auckland light rail plan will not be considered by Cabinet until 2020, which means construction on the $6 billion project will be pushed out beyond the current Parliament.
National’s Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop said that the slashing of the state highway budget was starting to have real effects on the economy.
“Important projects, many of them ready to go, have been pushed off to the never-never – all for a light rail project the start date for which has been delayed yet again,” he said.
The Warehouse, KiwiRail and Meridian Energy are among 29 organisations sharing a grant of $4.5 million from the Government for low emission transport projects.
Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods said it’s the largest round of funding delivered through the Government’s Low Emission’s Vehicles Contestable Fund so far.
The grants will include $4.5 million from the Government, matched by $12 million from the private sector, the minister said on Thursday.
“Smart investments like this are why under this Government the number of electric vehicles on our roads has nearly tripled. In October 2017, we had 5363 registered electric vehicles (EVs) compared to 15,453 now.”
The 29 projects granted funding range from increasing the number of availability of public charging stations to heavy electric truck trials.
The Warehouse, for example, is getting a $257,287 grant to lease four electric trucks for daily home delivery function. The company plans to locate them in Auckland, Christchurch, Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu.
Meridian Energy will get $150,000 to install up to 14 electric vehicle charging stations in businesses in Otago and Canterbury, to add to available charging infrastructure.
KiwiRail – which was already given $1 billion in Budget 2019 – will get a $65,000 grant to install six electric vehicle chargers on three Interislander ferries to provide travellers with the ability to charge their electric cars and campervans.
Kiwi Property Holdings will get $211,209 to install at least 43 charging stations at shopping malls including Sylvia Park and Lynn Mall in Auckland and The Base and Centre Place in Hamilton.
ChargeNet NZ, which has built more than 100 charging stations across New Zealand, will receive three separate grants totalling $343,000, and will share a $318,500 grant with Orion NZ to connect South Island coasts to EVs.
Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes said transport makes up 19 percent of New Zealand’s emissions, “so this work is critical if we are going to meaningfully act on climate change”.
“These grants are part of a broader work programme to bring emissions down in New Zealand by this Government and we welcome it.”
The full list of approved projects can be viewed here.
The Government’s Low Emission’s Vehicles Contestable Fund has so far committed $20.9 million to 120 projects. That has been matched by $40.7 million in applicant funding.
A further $3.1 million in Government funding is available under the current round. The next round opening in February 2020 will also include support for e-bike storage solutions.
The Government proposed last month an incentive scheme offering discounts of up to $8000 for zero-emission, newly imported vehicles. But imported vehicles that emit heavy emissions would be stung with a fee up to $3000.
National leader Simon Bridges said his petition against the proposed policy has reached 10,000 signatures in just over a week.
National’s Transport Spokesperson Chris Bishop said the agency should be focusing on building roads, rather than hiring communications staff. The NZTA’s most recent quarterly report said the state highway building programme faced “significant funding pressure”.
“People around the country will be frustrated that the transport agency was able to find more money for comms pros and spin doctors but they can’t find money for road upgrades,” Bishop said.
NZTA’s spend-up was revealed in an answer to a written Parliamentary question submitted by Bishop.
The Agency employed the equivalent of 37 full-time permanent staff and three staff on fixed term contracts in media communications, marketing, stakeholder engagement and public affairs roles, as of July 2019.
This is nearly double the rate employed in July 2017, when the Agency employed 17.5 permanent staff and 8.6 fixed-term employees. The precise number of staff may differ, as the figures were calculated as full-time equivalents, rather than an exact number of both full-time and part-time staff.
A spokesperson for NZTA said that most of the communications team were involved in “community engagement activities”.
“In recent years a number of communications and engagement staff who were previously based within project teams have been brought in-house to work as one team, in order to lift our capacity and capability in this area, with a strong focus on community and stakeholder engagement,” the spokesperson said.
The team’s role was to engage with people who would provide input on transport decisions, NZTA said.
NZTA has faced intense scrutiny this week as the full cost of the regulatory compliance scandal was laid bare.
The law firm Meredeth Connell, which was hired to review the files of the sub-par WoF and license issuers at the heart of the scandal, was paid $7.2 million.
Meanwhile NZTA has faced criticism that it has been unable to get crucial infrastructure projects built.
The incoming Government changed the agency’s focus away from large state-highways to local roads and public transport.
That led to some of the previous Government’s prestige roading projects being reassessed, meaning they’ll be unlikely to go ahead in their current form, if they go ahead at all.
But the new priorities have had a lagging effect on Transport spending, with NZTA seemingly unable to get its multi-billion dollar roading budget out the door.
The agency has struggled to spend its quota for highway improvements, which have come $264.8 million under budget according to its latest quarterly report. This translates into many incomplete or delayed projects.SharePlayMuteCurrent Time0:00/Duration Time0:46Loaded: 0%Progress: 0% FullscreenSTUFFSpeed limits are too high on the majority of New Zealand roads, the NZ Transport Agency says.
The agency also says that multiple areas of the Transport budget face “significant funding pressure”. State highway projects, local road projects and public transport all face funding pressures.
A spokesperson for Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the matter was operational and the Minister would not comment.
The Supporting Growth programme has achieved a significant planning milestone with the publication of new indicative transport network maps for Auckland’s future growth areas.
The Indicative Strategic Transport Networkplans identify what transport projects are needed over the next 10-30 years to support the development of new communities, employment and industrial areas in Warkworth, north, northwest and south Auckland.
The plans are developed by Te Tupu Ngātahi (the Supporting Growth Alliance), a collaboration between Auckland Transport and the NZ Transport Agency, with consultants Beca, AECOM, Bell Gully and Buddle Findlay, to plan ahead and provide certainty to the community and stakeholders about what transport networks will be developed over the next few decades, in line with Auckland Council’s land use planning.
The NZ Transport Agency’s Director of Regional Relationships Steve Mutton says the plans aim to provide safe, accessible and sustainable travel choices that connect these new areas to the rest of the region and promote a greater use of public transport.
“The plans set out a shared vision by central and local government for long-term investment in Auckland’s future growth areas. It shows their commitment to working together over the next few decades to plan, fund and deliver a well-integrated transport network.”
“Publication of these plans will provide certainty for communities, developers, Auckland Council and other Crown agencies as they plan ahead for the development of new housing and employment areas.” Auckland Transport Chief Executive Shane Ellison says the Supporting Growth Alliance is a culmination of investigations and engagement with partners, stakeholders and communities over a number of years.
“Aucklanders have told us they’re looking for more public transport, walking and cycling connections and they’re integral in our long term planning.”
The programme is a key initiative under the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP), which sets the strategic direction for Auckland’s transport network over the next 10 years and beyond. The Supporting Growth team’s next step is to undertake more detailed investigations and begin staged route protection processes across all areas over the next few years.
The Auckland Plan 2050 expects more than 130,000 new homes and 76,000 new jobs will be created in 15,000 hectares of land to be developed in the future urban growth areas of:
Silverdale, Wainui and Dairy Flat in north Auckland
Whenuapai, Redhills, Riverhead, Kumeu-Huapai in the north west
Pukekohe, Paerata, Drury and Takanini in the south.
The Supporting Growth Alliance has partnered with Auckland Council, Mana whenua and KiwiRail to develop the indicative network plans. Key stakeholders and local communities have also been engaged throughout the development of the plans, and more opportunities for engagement are planned later this year and over the next few years, as projects within each area are progressed.
Most of the projects identified in the indicative networks are expected to be constructed over the longer term, in line with the anticipated rezoning and development of land by Auckland Council. The projects are yet to be prioritised for funding for delivery.
In the meantime, key projects that support growth in the short term are already funded and underway. These include:
Te Honohono ki Tai – Matakana Link Road in Warkworth
The SH16 Safe Networks Programme project – Brigham Creek to Waimauku
Arterial connections in the North West (Redhills and Whenuapai)
Improvements to SH1 between Papakura and Drury, as part of the longer-term Papakura to Bombay Improvements project.
Early estimates for the cost of transport improvements over the next 30 years to support the growth areas are in excess of $10bn, with funding to be secured from both public and private sources.
Further details about the Supporting Growth programme including detailed maps, project information and timelines is available at www.supportinggrowth.govt.nz