They say a week is a long time in politics. This week’s “bonfire of the priorities”, as the latest jettisoning of unachievable policy goals has been called, shows the truth of this age-old adage.
Common sense has prevailed, even if its hand was forced by mother nature. This is good news for the road transport industry. Roading rebuild and resilience are now top of the list, front of mind and on everyone's’ lips. NRC has been calling for this for decades. Also, destined for the bonfire is the widespread plan to drop speed limits – now only the most dangerous 1% of state highways will qualify for speed reductions. Building better roads is now being talked about as the best way to make road journeys safer, while keeping journey times efficient. We need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.
The other hand finally being forced is fiscal discipline. This year’s weather events have caused billions of dollars of damage. Our economy shrank by 0.6% GDP last quarter. New Zealand needs to live within its means. The magic tap of dollars that seemed to flow for every pet project at the expense of getting the basics done right has turned off. We have one of the smallest tax bases in the OECD and one of the toughest terrains to build in, thousands of kilometres away at the end of the global supply chain.
It’s time to fund our roading network and build the capability to start the long catch up on rebuild, deferred maintenance and new build.
We can only hope next time it doesn’t take a cyclone and recession for the lesson to sink in.
National Road Carriers Assn
Supporting those who choose to make a living in the Road Transport Industry since 1936