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Christchurch City Council Media Release Monday 12 April 1999

Community Roadsl

Survey signals "red light" on Road Reform

New Zealanders have little awareness, and even less support for the Minister of Transport’s latest proposals to reform the country’s roading network, according to an ACNeilsen survey carried out for a number of South Island councils.

The survey showed only 15 percent of New Zealanders who know about the Minister’s plans to commercialise roads support them. Christchurch City Council Mayor, Garry Moore said this was an emphatic rejection of the Minister’s plans to turn New Zealand’s roads into revenue generators for Government coffers.

"Despite the Minister of Transport’s best attempts to "consult" and win people over with his public relations roadshows, levels of awareness and understanding remain at an all time low", said Mr Moore.

"The more people learn about the Minister’s plans to commercialise our roads, the more they don’t like it. This mindless determination by the Minister to turn our roads over to profit-making companies has absolutely no support from ordinary New Zealanders."

The plans, currently under consideration by Government, propose transferring the management of roads from local authorities to between four and eight companies set up to run roading on a commercial profit-making basis.

In an election year warning, only 12 per cent of the 800 surveyed rated support for the Minister’s plans in their communities as good or very good. Strongest opposition to the proposed commercialisation was from South Islanders, with only seven per cent support.

"Local authorities are ringing the alarm bells. These plans could change the face of New Zealand society forever, and we don’t want our communities waking up one morning to a roading system they knew nothing about - and simply don’t want", said Mr Moore.

"When he launched this policy back in December, the Minister said he would only proceed if he could reach a consensus. Only 35 per cent of New Zealanders even know about the plans. Of those who understand the plans, only 15 per cent actually support them. That means only one New Zealander in twenty is aware of, and supports, the Minister’s proposals - hardly a consensus!"

The survey showed that, of those aware of the planned changes, key concerns are that the proposals will lead to higher costs for road users and transportation, and a drop in roading standards - particularly in rural areas.

The same group considered that rural communities, the general public, road users and low income earners would be most disadvantaged by the planned changes.

There was overwhelming support (91 per cent) for managers of the roading network to represent and be fully accountable to local communities, with almost half those surveyed having little confidence that commercial roading companies would deliver a fair and efficient service to motorists and communities.

In fact, 70 per cent of those surveyed believed local authorities to be the most appropriate managers of the roading network - a damning indictment on the Minister’s plans to serve up roading to a series of profit driven companies with little or no community control or accountability, said Mr Moore.

The survey showed that over two thirds of New Zealanders oppose the Minister’s plans to make road users fully fund our roads through a system of higher fuel taxes, peak hour charges, and tolls. The strong preference (67%) is for the status quo - current levels of tax on petrol and council rates.

Three quarters of those surveyed did not believe the Minister of Transport had fully explained the implications of the proposed changes.

The nationwide telephone survey of 800 people was carried out from 4 to 15 March, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.



For more information contact:

Mayor Garry Moore

Christchurch City Council

Tel: 025 330 559

For copies of research report contact:

Carol Soundy

Christchurch City Council

Tel: 03 941 8949 / 025 220 7248

ACNeilsen Research for

Canterbury and West Coast Local Authorities

Survey of 800 New Zealanders questioned on issues relating to the Government’s proposed roading reform, carried out 4 to 15 March 1999.

Findings from all respondents included:

35 per cent said they were aware of the Government’s proposals for roading reform.

70 per cent believe local authorities, on behalf of the community, are the most appropriate owners and managers of the roading network.

91 per cent believe companies set up to manage the roading network should represent and be fully responsive to local road users.

12 per cent believe the level of support for the proposed reforms within their local community was either good or very good.

61 per cent either mildly disagreed (29 per cent) or strongly disagreed (32 per cent) that they and the community have had enough input into the proposed roading reforms.

75 per cent felt that the Government had not fully explained the implications of the proposed changes to the roading system.

67 per cent prefer to fund roads through the current levels of tax on petrol and council rates, while 19 per cent would prefer funding entirely from road users.

Findings from the 35 per cent (279 out of 800) of respondents already aware of the proposed reforms included:

Attitudes towards the plans were predominantly negative, with 59 per cent having an unfavourable view, and only 15 per cent a favourable view.

Respondents expect the main impacts of the planned changes to include:

- increased costs to road users

- a deterioration in road quality for groups such as rural communities

- possible fragmentation and lack of national road quality standards.

The Government, city dwellers and road management companies were identified as the main beneficiaries of the planned changes.

Rural communities are considered to be the most disadvantaged.

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