Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand

 
The road ahead

The road ahead

Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand

 December 2021   

Since March 2020, COVID-19, lockdowns and supply chain pressures have caused unprecedented disruption for the road freight transport industry here in Aotearoa. 

During this time, drivers have stepped up and ensured the delivery of essential goods across the country – vital supplies to keep our supermarkets, petrol stations, businesses and hospitals fully stocked. 

Workers in the road freight transport industry do the hard mahi every day, placing themselves on the front line to keep the supply chain moving and support our economic recovery. I know the recent Delta outbreak has put even more pressure on and I would like to thank everyone in the sector who is continuing to deliver for New Zealand. 

COVID has also highlighted how important it is to have a national supply chain strategy to help bring together players from across the industry during times of disruption and improve resilience. This is something that Australia, and many other countries, have undertaken to better understand how their supply chains operate and to inform investment decisions.

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Since March 2020, COVID-19, lockdowns and supply chain pressures have caused unprecedented disruption for the road freight transport industry here in Aotearoa. 

During this time, drivers have stepped up and ensured the delivery of essential goods across the country – vital supplies to keep our supermarkets, petrol stations, businesses and hospitals fully stocked. 

Workers in the road freight transport industry do the hard mahi every day, placing themselves on the front line to keep the supply chain moving and support our economic recovery. I know the recent Delta outbreak has put even more pressure on and I would like to thank everyone in the sector who is continuing to deliver for New Zealand. 

COVID has also highlighted how important it is to have a national supply chain strategy to help bring together players from across the industry during times of disruption and improve resilience. This is something that Australia, and many other countries, have undertaken to better understand how their supply chains operate and to inform investment decisions. 

We’re committed to forming a strategy and it will involve all players in the freight system, including ports, logistics, coastal shipping, roading, and rail. I expect this to take around 18 months once the work formally kicks off at the end of 2021 and I encourage everyone in the road transport industry to help shape it. 

Our Government is committed to creating a safer, more sustainable and resilient land transport system. Ensuring freight can get around safely and with minimal disruption is a key a part of that, which is why we’re significantly boosting investment into road maintenance. 

As you’re aware, COVID has impacted on revenue to fund land transport initiatives and there were concerns raised that road maintenance investment wouldn’t be enough to keep our country moving. We heard the calls from your sector, local government and communities and we have stepped in to provide $2billion of financing to Waka Kotahi to boost road maintenance and other initiatives. We couldn’t accept our roads deteriorating.

This was reflected in the 2021-‘24 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP), where Waka Kotahi was able to boost the investment in the state highway maintenance activity class by 30%, to a record $2.8bn. This investment over the next three years will focus on high- priority maintenance and renewal work on 7000 lane kilometres of high-volume and vulnerable state highways. 

Climate change disruption and more intense and frequent weather events also have the potential to compromise the resilience of our state highway network. This investment will include an estimated $240million for emergency works, to help our state highway networks get up and running as efficiently as possible in emergency situations.

Importantly, Waka Kotahi will be investing a record $4.2bn in local road maintenance over the next years to help support local government keep our roads up to scratch. This is an almost 20% increase over the previous three years. This will deliver 18,000 lane kilometres of sealed road renewals, more than three million cubic metres of metalling on unsealed roads and more than 1900kms of drain renewals.

All in all, almost $7bn will be invested in local road and state highway maintenance over the next three years. The previous government flatlined road maintenance spending and our record investments mean it’s been boosted by nearly 50%, to help bring our roads back up to standard. Increasing our investment in both state highway and local road maintenance means we can ensure our transport network continues to be both reliable and resilient. 

On top of this, over the next three years, significant state highway projects will be completed including Te Ahu a Turanga; Manawatū Tararua Highway and the Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway, which will provide better freight connections across the country.

I know you all will be interested in what’s next for Road User Charges (RUCs). Our RUC system is a world-leading distance and weight-based charge for both diesel and heavy vehicles. It was established in the 1970s and since then has only required one major review, which ended with a new RUC Act in 2012. 

Much has changed in the decade since the RUC Act was amended. Technologies, both inside and outside of vehicles, have developed enormously, new fuels such as electricity and hydrogen have become more common and issues like addressing climate change are now front and centre. We also realise that there are some issues, such as the heavy vehicle overweight permit regime, that require attention to make them work more efficiently for everyone. 

The Government recently released Driving Change: Reviewing the Road User Charges System, a discussion document that seeks your feedback on possible changes to RUC. I encourage everyone in the road freight transport industry to take time to read the discussion document and make a submission. 

The road freight transport industry plays an integral role in our transport system. I thank you for your mahi and for your advocacy to promote safer transport infrastructure, well-maintained roads and professional development for the industry. 

I hope you all have a safe and happy holidays. May 2022 be better than the last couple of years!  


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