Political parties have opportunity to back region’s roading needs

LETTER

The Roads in Crisis report from the forestry industry, made public yesterday, makes clear the urgent need for a lot more money to be spent on this district’s roads.

Representative body the Eastland Wood Council says the problem is beyond the scope of Tairawhiti Roads and Gisborne District Council, and suggests central government needs to step in and back the rhetoric of both major political parties, which “always espouse the importance of the regions”.

“The scale of the problem, while large for the worst affected regions, is relatively small in the context of the national roading budget. If the estimate by Opus of $60 million is all that is required in Gisborne to get local roads up to logging truck standard, then nationally this figure may only be $150m-$200m to be spent over the next four years in the worst-affected regions. Compare that to the budget of $9.17 billion to be spent on state highways over the next four years.”

A supporting letter from Federated Farmers’ provincial president Charlie Reynolds is titled “Rural families deserve safe roads too . . .” and points to the daily need to traverse what are continually deteriorating roads.

They were not “pointing the finger” at the forestry industry, nor were contractors Downer and SSE “to be fully blamed, as they are constrained by the amount of money they are allowed to spend through their contracts”.

“In our view it’s central government that has a lot to answer for,” says Mr Reynolds.

Vast sums had been invested in forestry schemes in the region since Cyclone Bola, and both major parties made promises in the 1990s of major upgrades to roads so they could handle the logs travelling to the port.

“The question asked now by rural food-producing families is why their children should be put at risk by shoddy road infrastructure so that urban dwellers can have multibillion-dollar tunnels that cut travel times by a mere few minutes,” says Mr Reynolds.

With an election just six weeks away, one wonders what the response might be from the different political parties.

The Roads in Crisis report from the forestry industry, made public yesterday, makes clear the urgent need for a lot more money to be spent on this district’s roads.

Representative body the Eastland Wood Council says the problem is beyond the scope of Tairawhiti Roads and Gisborne District Council, and suggests central government needs to step in and back the rhetoric of both major political parties, which “always espouse the importance of the regions”.

“The scale of the problem, while large for the worst affected regions, is relatively small in the context of the national roading budget. If the estimate by Opus of $60 million is all that is required in Gisborne to get local roads up to logging truck standard, then nationally this figure may only be $150m-$200m to be spent over the next four years in the worst-affected regions. Compare that to the budget of $9.17 billion to be spent on state highways over the next four years.”

A supporting letter from Federated Farmers’ provincial president Charlie Reynolds is titled “Rural families deserve safe roads too . . .” and points to the daily need to traverse what are continually deteriorating roads.

They were not “pointing the finger” at the forestry industry, nor were contractors Downer and SSE “to be fully blamed, as they are constrained by the amount of money they are allowed to spend through their contracts”.

“In our view it’s central government that has a lot to answer for,” says Mr Reynolds.

Vast sums had been invested in forestry schemes in the region since Cyclone Bola, and both major parties made promises in the 1990s of major upgrades to roads so they could handle the logs travelling to the port.

“The question asked now by rural food-producing families is why their children should be put at risk by shoddy road infrastructure so that urban dwellers can have multibillion-dollar tunnels that cut travel times by a mere few minutes,” says Mr Reynolds.

With an election just six weeks away, one wonders what the response might be from the different political parties.

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Manu Caddie - 7 days ago
It constantly amazes me how those quick to condemn government welfare 'dependency' in struggling families are so keen to have taxpayers subsidise well-established - yet seemingly uneconomic - industries when they don't want to cover the costs they try to externalise.
Perhaps Federated Farmers could reread the submission they made in 2010 to the Welfare Working Group entitled "Long-Term Benefit Dependency: The Issues" and apply their criticisms of the welfare system to the subsidies they're suggesting central government hand out to cover the costs of roading damage caused by forestry and, to a much lesser degree, farming.

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