National finally owns up to the pothole problem they created

Transport

National’s so-called “pothole repair fund” would raid other road safety funding to fix a problem that they created themselves, Transport Minister David Parker said today.

“This Government is spending more on road maintenance, including pothole repairs, than any previous government,” David Parker said.

“The current state highway maintenance budget is $2.8 billion for 2021/24 – that’s a 65 per cent increase on the $1.7 billion that National spent during 2015/18, when it was last in office.

“Maintenance spending on all roads, including local roads, has increased by 54 per cent since this Government took office.

“This Government inherited a road maintenance crisis. National chose to freeze road maintenance funding during its time in office in order fund high-profile new highways.

“As a result, roads were resurfaced at less than half the rate they should have been. The state of our roads deteriorated, making them more vulnerable to damage from the extreme weather events that have hit the North Island in particular this year.

“We have since remedied that, and we are catching up, but they caused the problem.

“Our roads are among New Zealand’s most significant strategic assets – they’re lifelines for communities and businesses. So, I’m pleased that National is finally apologising for its predecessor’s decade of road maintenance cuts.

“To be clear, Waka Kotahi is fixing a record number of potholes across the state highway network. It repaired 54,544 potholes in calendar 2022, compared with 39,652 in 2018.

“National says it would reallocate other transport spending, including from road safety, for its pothole fund – Simeon Brown says he would use Waka Kotahi’s public awareness campaign funding, but that is only $38.7 million this financial year.

“National’s plan would mean fewer road police out on the front lines - the current funding pays for 1,070 dedicated road policing staff.

“It would mean fewer Police conducting breath tests and checking that people are wearing their seatbelts. The current funding paid for Police to conduct more than 2.1m breath tests and to enforce more than 37,000 seatbelt offices in the 2022/23 year.

“It would also mean building less infrastructure like median barriers and side barriers to make the roads safer.

“This Government’s record is clear. National must explain how they will fill the giant pothole they’re creating in the transport budget,” David Parker said.