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Govt must explain its pro-Auckland spending, Chch councillor says

7 February 2003

New Zealanders south of the Bombay Hills should be worried by the Government’s move to spend disproportionate amounts of roading money on Auckland, Christchurch City Councillor Denis O’Rourke says.

"The Government says Auckland is in urgent need of nine tenths of these funds over the next 10 years, but that does not mean it should invest less in other places, which comprise three quarters of the country" Mr O’Rourke says. "What the rest of the country needs to be saying to the Government is that it needs to find more money. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is bad government and will be strongly opposed by all communities south of the Bombay Hills."

Like many other cities and districts outside greater Auckland, Christchurch has several transport projects which are crucial to its development, but which now are now to be deprived of Transit NZ funds.

"There are two schemes here that, to Christchurch, are vital, and a number of others which are deserving of funding. All the planning and design work’s been done for two vital projects relating to the northern and southern gateways to the city. The consent issues have been settled, and they are crucial to other plans for city development," Mr O’Rourke says. "They‘re basically ready for the bulldozers to roll, but the plug has suddenly been pulled on them".

"These projects are critical to ensure we don’t get into the same sort of difficulties that Auckland has, with growth outstripping infrastructure. The problem is that if each area just talks about its own patch then we’re just fighting each other for scraps and not addressing the real issue, which comes back to adequate funding on a nationwide basis".

It is also unfortunate the Government seems to be supporting ideas in Auckland which go against its own policies and may make the problem worse.

"The Government’s actually rewarding a city that is proposing to do the exact opposite of what the Government says it wants and in fact this decision is likely to ensure it just gets worse," Mr O’Rourke says. "The Government’s policy is to encourage New Zealand to develop a sustainable transport system but here they’re talking more major roads rather than alternatives to roads (a genuinely integrated transport system), and it will just feed demand. It’s going to create a bigger problem."

A briefing about the two Christchurch roading schemes mentioned by Cr O’Rourke is available. Please phone Bryn Somerville on 03 941 8949

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