Moana Chief – media release from Pacifica

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.

The $3.5 billion ‘brake’ on the economy

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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.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford has shifted investment away from large state highway investment.
MONIQUE FORD/STUFFTransport Minister Phil Twyford has shifted investment away from large state highway investment.

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. 

The Government says its putting a bigger focus on walking and cycling now.
ROSS GIBLIN/STUFFThe Government says its putting a bigger focus on walking and cycling now.

​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. 

Economist Brad Olsen is concerned stalled infrastructure spending is putting a brake on the economy.
SUPPLIEDEconomist Brad Olsen is concerned stalled infrastructure spending is putting a brake on the economy.

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.

The Government's Auckland light rail plan will not be considered by Cabinet until 2020. This is an artist's rendition of what light rail in Auckland could look like.
AUCKLAND TRANSPORTThe Government’s Auckland light rail plan will not be considered by Cabinet until 2020. This is an artist’s rendition of what light rail in Auckland could look like.

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.

Twyford says the Government is delivering a different mix of transport projects.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFFTwyford says the Government is delivering a different mix of transport projects.

“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.

National's Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop is concerned for the country's economy.
KAI SCHWOERER/GETTY IMAGESNational’s Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop is concerned for the country’s economy.

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 29 projects sharing multi-million-dollar grant for low emission transport ideas

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. 


NZTA doubles comms team after difficult years, while state highways face ‘significant funding pressure’

The Government’s embattled transport agency NZTA has been on a spin doctor hiring spree.

NZTA nearly doubled the number of staff employed in media and communications roles between 2017 and 2019. 

This coincided with a deeply tumultuous period in NZTA’s history where it was found to be negligent as a regulator, a scandal which eventually cost a motorist his life.

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.

NZTA has beefed up its communications team whilst transport projects have stalled.
ALEX BURTON/STUFFNZTA has beefed up its communications team whilst transport projects have stalled.

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.

MP for Hutt South Chris Bishop,left, and Mayor Ray Wallace campaigning for the Melling interchange, a stalled NZTA project.
KEVIN STENTMP for Hutt South Chris Bishop,left, and Mayor Ray Wallace campaigning for the Melling interchange, a stalled NZTA project.

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. 


Transport network plans laid out to support Auckland’s future development

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:

  • Warkworth
  • 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

New Zealand public transport system ‘not good enough’ – infrastructure chief executive officer

New Zealand’s public transport is constantly improving but still has a long way to go says Infrastructure NZ’s chief executive officer.

“I don’t think it’s good enough from a user perspective,” said Stephen Selwood on Wednesday.

“We’re constantly having to improve the system but any system like public transport where you’re using one [train] line any disruption is going to cause problems,” he told The AM Show.

Last week the derailment of a train in Wellington caused chaos for 20,000 commuters, and in June an electrical fault left all Auckland train services stopped dead in their tracks.

On top of these problems, Wellington buses are still struggling to recover from the 2018 contract switch which threw a number of services into disarray.

He says New Zealand’s issues aren’t special and problems with public transport are global.

The solution is more money – even though $4.5 billion has been given to improve Auckland’s central rail link.

But fixing “decades of underinvestment,” isn’t easy says Selwood.

“We do have to be patient, we are constantly improving but much more investment is required,” he said.

Selwood says the option of private funding should be investigated for roads and public transport.

“The whole transport system needs investment and we should be open to all possibilities [of funding].” 


Government won’t budge on Business Council’s demand for roads: Twyford

Transport Minister Phil Twyford says the Business Advisory Council's call to privately fund a dozen on-hold roads is
Transport Minister Phil Twyford says the Business Advisory Council’s call to privately fund a dozen on-hold roads is “bad policy”. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The Government and the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council see eye-to-eye on a lot when it comes to fixing the country’s infrastructure woes, Transport Minister Phil Twyford says.

They are at an impasse when it comes to roads.

In a damning letter released to The Herald, the council said New Zealand was at an “infrastructure crisis point” and lacked a national master plan to fix the issue.

Chaired by outgoing Air New Zealand chief Christopher Luxon, the group excused the current Government, saying the issue was intergenerational and added there was “no overarching vision or leadership in New Zealand for infrastructure development”.

“This means there is no nation-building narrative upon which to build a strategic direction,” it said.

It also called for a financing mechanism that would allow for long-term, debt-funded or investable opportunities and said incentives between central and local government are misaligned.

Twyford said there was a lot the administration agreed with.

“The Government shares the view of the Business Advisory Council that it’s past time for us to really lift our game in the way we plan and fund and finance infrastructure,” he said.

He points to the Infrastructure New Zealand’s wish list and says almost every item is already being addressed, through projects such as the planning reform, the establishment of an infrastructure commission, ongoing work on a variety of new financing streams, including infrastructure bonds for urban growth.

But the agreement ends at roading.

The council has called on the Government to proceed with the 12 roading projects presently on hold or under review and to open them to private investment.

“These projects are investment ready, provide the beginnings of a pipeline of investable opportunities and would be an effective use of the roading capability developed in New Zealand over the last 20 years,” the letter said.

Twyford said the Government was looking for a more balanced approach to modes of transport.

“It would be really bad policy to do what they’re advocating in that particular area,” he said

“If we were to do what the Business Advisory Council was saying, it would mean spending a great deal of money, more than $12 billion, on projects that have very low economic value.”

Allowing private investment into the roads didn’t make sense either, he said.

“Borrowing money is not the problem here. It’s never been cheaper to borrow money than at the moment … It’s actually having the revenue to be able to service that debt.”

That money could only come from the National Land Transport Fund, or tolling, he said.

“None of those roads have enough traffic on them to generate anything like the kind of revenue you would need to pay for them, to service the debt. It’s just not realistic.”

The June 26 letter, signed by the Business Advisory Council chairman on behalf of the 13-strong council, raised a number of recommendations.

They include the establishing a Ministry of Cities, Urban Development and Population, a Prime Ministerial Taskforce or Commission of Inquiry should be established to undertake a comprehensive review of NZ’s planning laws and local government system, including the Resource Management Act, Local Government Act and Land Transport Act.

Comment: Our beautiful country New Zealand is caving in and breaking down


We should all agree, New Zealand has seen better days.

The past month, our beautiful country has suffered, by either our failing public transport systems, waterways or weather.

Today, thousands of Wellington commuters have been warned not to travel as no trains would be running because of a derailment.

Southbound traffic on SH2 from the Petone off-ramp about 8.10am. Photo / NZTA Journey Planner
Southbound traffic on SH2 from the Petone off-ramp about 8.10am. Photo / NZTA Journey Planner

Oh, and also there’s not enough replacement buses.

But that didn’t stop Wellingtonians making their way into work, because not everyone can afford a day off. So, commuter chaos has ensued with an added 20,000 workers possibly driving to work, causing major delays on the motorway.

Of course, Auckland has suffered from many train cancellations and delays in the past month as well, adding traffic to our outdated motorway layouts.

But don’t worry, a light rail to Auckland Airport should help ease traffic…

Public transport is not the only way New Zealand is breaking down, as the current weather has affected our country in many ways.

Even though the lack of rain has been nice, the downside is that Aucklanders are being warned of a looming water shortage.

Watercare is urging residents to use water wisely, the city’s total water storage is 59.2 per cent, which is 25 per cent less than normal for this time of year.

However, in Napier they have plenty of water to go around, but it is brown.

Just a selection of pictures posting on social media, detailing the water Napier residents are currently struggling with. Photo / Supplied
Just a selection of pictures posting on social media, detailing the water Napier residents are currently struggling with. Photo / Supplied

In the past year, photos of baths, sinks and buckets filled with the dirty water have been shared on local social media groups.

The substance that turns Napier’s water brown is biofilm, which is organic and inorganic, living and dead material which builds up in pipes.

But don’t worry, a Napier City Council spokesperson said it’s safe to drink … other experts disagreed.

Taupō residents are also having a crappy time after a huge discharge of raw sewage poured into Lake Taupō from a burst wastewater pipe.

Residents have been told not to flush their toilets, take showers, and any other unnecessary water use.

Taupo residents are being urged not to flush their toilets or use any unnecessary water following a water main and wastewater pipe break on Lake Terrace. Photo / Supplied
Taupo residents are being urged not to flush their toilets or use any unnecessary water following a water main and wastewater pipe break on Lake Terrace. Photo / Supplied

Looks like Aucklanders and Taupōers are in the same boat.

The lack of rain hasn’t only just affect Auckland’s waterways as because of the great weather, our country has a major rat problem.

Huge “cat-sized” rats have been spotted across the country, with an explosion in rat numbers in both forests and urban areas.

A mega mast means our native trees are fruiting really heavily, therefore rats are getting a mean feed.

A rat caught in a trap in Aro Valley, Wellington, about the size of a
A rat caught in a trap in Aro Valley, Wellington, about the size of a “small possum”. Photo / Forest & Bird

This is not only bad for Kiwis who are trying to keep the massive rodents away, but our native animals who might face local extinctions in forests as they are being attacked by rats.

If you think the act of God hasn’t broken our country enough, spare of thought for the Rotorua residents whose property is collapsing after a mud pool opened up last week.

The shed next to the mud pool has been taken down. Photo / Stephen Parker
The shed next to the mud pool has been taken down. Photo / Stephen Parker

The Government wants to provide discounts for importing cleaner cars to New Zealand

Seriously, why has this taken so long?

The Government is signalling its intention to slash the price of imported electric and hybrid vehicles by up to $8000 in a bid to make greener cars cheaper for Kiwis.

But it is also planning to slap a new fee of up to $3000 on the import of vehicles with the highest greenhouse gas emissions.

The Government has today opened a six-week consultation period before it introduces new legislation in Parliament later this year.

The plan, according to Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter, will get more Kiwis into cleaner vehicles by reducing some of the cost burden.

It would come into force in 2021.

“Most Kiwis want to buy a car that’s good for the environment, but tell us the upfront cost and limited choice makes it a challenge,” she said.

The Government is proposing discounts of up to $8000 for zero-emission new imported vehicles, such as electric vehicles (EVs).

That number would be $6800 for plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEVs) and $4800 for hybrids.

The level of the discount depends on the total net emissions of the vehicle.

For example, a new Hyundai Ioniq – which has an approximate retail value of just under $60,000 – would cost $52,000 after the full $8000 discount.

A Hyundai Ioniq battery electric vehicle (BEV). Cars like Hyundai's Loniq battery electric vehicle (BEV) are poised to become more common. Photo / Supplied
A Hyundai Ioniq battery electric vehicle (BEV). Cars like Hyundai’s Loniq battery electric vehicle (BEV) are poised to become more common. Photo / Supplied

A used Mazda Axela, which is one of New Zealand’s most popular imported vehicles, would cost $7200 after an $800 discount.

But a new Land Rover Sports V8 would be slapped with a $3000 high-emissions fee.

A $22,000 Toyota Hiace would cost an extra $1400 after the fee was applied.

Genter said the policy would be cost neutral – meaning the money gained through the fees from higher emitting vehicles would offset the subsidies provided to the lower emission cars.

The plan, according to Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter, will get more Kiwis into cleaner vehicles by reducing some of the cost burden. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The plan, according to Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter, will get more Kiwis into cleaner vehicles by reducing some of the cost burden. Photo / Mark Mitchell

“This means people will still have choice, while contributing to the task of cleaning up the vehicles coming into New Zealand.”

The policy would only apply to new and used cars being imported into New Zealand, not to vehicles already registered in New Zealand when on-sold.

Some 74 per cent of annual vehicles sales are of vehicles already registered and these would not be affected, Genter said.

According to data from NZ Transport, there are more than 3.2 million petrol cars on New Zealand’s roads. That compares to almost 15,000 electric vehicles in New Zealand.

The Motor Industry Association’s chief executive David Crawford said the Government’s moves were sensible.

Although the industry doesn’t agree with all of the Government’s proposals, it was keen to ensure that it is successful in reducing CO2 emissions from the light vehicle fleet in New Zealand, Crawford said.

“Our view is that the best policies to achieve a reduction in emissions are those that influence purchasing decisions. Changes in models supplied to New Zealand will follow if the demand is altered.”

Greenpeace has welcomed the Government’s move as a “good first step”, but thinks the fee on higher emitting vehicles should be much higher.

“It’s disappointing to see the maximum fee for highly polluting vehicles capped at $3,000. Would this make someone buying a more than $100,000 gas guzzler reconsider?” said Greenpeace Energy Campaigner Amanda Larsson.

“In France, for example, the top penalty is more than three times greater than what the New Zealand Government is proposing.”

The Government is also looking to introduce new clean car standards, which would require vehicle importers to reduce the average emissions by meeting an annual emission target.

Emissions targets would be phased in gradually.

Genter said the economic evaluation shows the benefits of the clean car standard outweigh the costs by a factor of 3 to 1.

“The majority of the economic benefits are to motorists who will save $6800 per vehicle and $3.4 billion collectively over the lifetime of the vehicles affected.”

She said the policy is forecast to reduce emissions by 5.1 million tonnes.

“These policies are about making cleaner vehicles a realistic option for more New Zealand households and businesses.”

The consultation period will run from today through to August 20. Genter said a bill making these policies law will go before the House between September and November.

The move comes after the draft Independent Climate Change Committee’s (ICCC) report into how New Zealand can reach the 100 per cent renewable target, obtained by the Herald, revealed the committee recommended the Government prioritises getting more electric vehicles on the road over reaching 100 per cent renewable energy by 2035.

Why is Government dragging its wheels on electric cars?

Credits: Newshub Nation.

On the campaign trail, Jacinda Ardern claimed climate change was her generation’s “nuclear-free moment”.

But nearly two years on, her Government has yet to take one of the most obvious steps to cut New Zealand’s emissions.

“Electric vehicles [EVs] can reduce New Zealand’s emissions profile more than nearly anything else,” says Mark Gilbert, chair of lobby group Drive Electric.

“There have been promises made, dates quoted and not met. This is meant to be the delivery year and still nothing.”

The Productivity Commission has said 80 percent of car imports will need to be electric by 2030, and nearly all New Zealand’s fleet by 2050, if we’re to meet our climate targets.

In 2018 just 1.7 percent of imports were electric, and they currently make up just 0.3 percent of our fleet.

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter and Climate Change Minister James Shaw, both from the Green Party, are responsible for developing the Government’s EV strategy. Both spent 2018 promising an EV strategy would be released by September of that year, but now they won’t even say if it will be released in 2019.

When asked by Newshub Nation whether the deadline could be met in months, or even next year, Shaw replied: “I couldn’t tell you.”

So, why the hold-up?

“There are things we could do pretty quickly, but they could have a negative effect on low-income households,” says Shaw.

What Shaw is referring to is a feebate scheme where a levy on petrol and diesel vehicles is used to subsidise electric vehicles.

“You can imagine, for example, a poor Mangere family without great public transport options, quite a long way out of town, really does rely on their petrol vehicle and doesn’t have the money to go electric because the up-front purchase cost is so high,” he says.

“They’re in a position where they’re going to be buying a cheap second-hand car and at the moment their only option is a combustion engine vehicle.

“So we’re mindful that any transition has to be of equal or greater benefit for people who are in those circumstances, as well as urban middle-class families with choices.”

Other countries like Norway use tax incentives to encourage EV uptake. Drive Electric has suggested that adjusting the Fringe Benefit Tax or GST could boost the number of EVs in company fleets.

“Companies roll their fleets every two to three years so these vehicles will quickly end up in the second-hand market, which will make them more accessible,” says Gilbert.

However, the 2019 budget put no money toward encouraging electric car uptake, and with the Productivity Commission’s first target 10 years away, it raises the question of whether New Zealand is in line to miss its targets.

“I think it is achievable,” says Shaw, “but in a non-linear way.”

“The uptake of electric vehicles has actually been exponential and that will steepen over time.”

Some businesses are ploughing ahead regardless: Meridian Energy has already transitioned half of its fleet to electric and will hit 75 percent by July.

“We want to have a fully electrified fleet across all of our sites and assets at the latest by 2030, I think we’ll easily get there by 2025,” says Nick Robilliard, Meridian’s fleet manager.

“The best thing the Government can do is continue working on different incentives.

“Certainly a feebate system and scheme, introduced in a modest way and progressively managed over time I think is a sensible, fiscally responsible sort of way that they could do it.”

Auckland EV owner Russell Baillie is the proud owner of a Nissan Leaf.

“It’s the best car I’ve ever owned,” he says.

The Baillie family has gone all-out to improve its environmental footprint. Their house is incredibly energy-efficient, designed to capture heat during the day and retain it at night, with no heating required during the winter.

It is also powered by solar panels and has its own battery storage and even a green roof.

But it’s the electric car making the biggest difference to the Baillies’ emissions profile, and with the Government dragging its wheels, more people like them are going to have to lead the way.

Newshub Nation.