Land Transport Management Bill 1st Reading Speech

  • Paul Swain

Mr Speaker, I move, That the Land Transport Management Bill 2002 be now read a first time.

At the appropriate time, I will move that the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee consider the Bill, and that the Committee be authorised to meet within the Wellington area during a sitting of the House despite Standing Order 196 (1) (b), and during any evening on a day on which there has been a sitting of the House despite Standing Order 196 (1) (c), and to meet on a Friday in a week in which there has been a sitting of the House, despite Standing Order 193.

This government has set itself the goal of returning New Zealand to the top half of the OECD. To do that we must have the right infrastructure in place and an effective and efficient land transport system can make a huge contribution.

The current land transport management and funding framework is limiting because:

·there is no strategic direction
·it does not allow an integrated approach to be taken to land transport because it focuses on roading
·it does not encourage long-term planning
·there is a lack of flexibility
·rules regarding the funding of public transport are constraining and inflexible.

To fix all this requires the government to determine a strategic direction and look for innovative solutions across all transport modes.

This new direction for land transport was signalled in February when the government released the Moving Forward land transport package. Earlier this month I released the government’s transport strategy.

The Land Transport Management Bill is the next stage in the process and represents the biggest change in land transport funding and management since the 1980s.
The bill broadens the focus of land transport funding, encourages more long-term planning and allows for greater funding flexibility. It is multi-modal in that it allows for the funding of road and rail.

The provisions in this bill will enable a more balanced approach to different types of land transport projects.

The replacement of the National Roads Fund and the National Roads Account with the National Land Transport Fund and the National Land Transport Account are indicative of this change. Transfund and Transit’s new objectives will be to allocate resources, and operate the state highway system, to achieve an integrated, safe, responsive and sustainable land transport system.

As part of this broader focus, the government will be able to approve funding of a wider range of public organisations involved in land transport provision, including rail organisations.

To further enhance a long-term and strategic focus, Transfund and organisations approved to get funding from Transfund, including Transit, will be required to prepare ten-year financial forecasts. The bill enables the Minister to give Transfund and Transit annual instructions relating to the governments priorities for land transport funding.

This bill allows regional councils to fund, and both own and operate, public transport infrastructure and services unless prohibited by Order-in-Council. Future work will look to make it easier for public road controlling authorities to work together.

The bill also modifies the purpose of Regional Land Transport Strategies, which set out an integrated approach to managing land transport in each region, to be consistent with achieving a land transport system that is integrated, safe, responsive and sustainable.

The bill provides changes to the way New Zealanders participate in land transport decision making. It stresses the need for options and alternatives to be considered at an early stage and for interested parties to be involved in that process. The government has worked hard to achieve a balance between the views of communities affected by land transport projects and of transport users.
I welcome submissions on the consultation provisions. The bill recognises that communities have a right to be involved in decisions that affect them. Everybody likes getting to places faster but not if the motorway goes through their backyard. The bill aims to balance communities’ needs with the needs of transport users and providers.

Even with the additional funding we are putting into the system in the coming years, there are land transport projects that would bring benefits to communities and are supported by those communities, but which cannot be funded at this time using traditional methods from the National Land Transport Fund. Alternative sources of funding, such as tolling and public private partnerships can allow communities to develop land transport infrastructure at a time, and in a manner, which suits them.

Tolling will be appropriate for some projects. At present each proposal for a toll road requires its own stand-alone legislation. This bill puts in place a framework for a generic tolling regime, reducing the time and cost for public road controlling authorities seeking to develop toll roads. The availability of other transport options and the effect of the proposed toll road on these will have to be taken into account.

There will be a number of criteria for toll roads, including:

·Toll roads must be new roads
·An alternative route must be available so that nobody is forced to use a tolled road
·The tolling scheme must be consistent with government and regional transport strategies
·The local community and road users must be consulted
·The final proposal must have ministerial approval.

The bill also provides that public road controlling authorities may undertake enforcement of payment of tolls, but enforcement of other offences will remain the responsibility of the Police.

Tolls may be collected electronically so the bill contains privacy protection provisions.

Either in conjunction with tolling, or using public funds, public private partnerships (PPPs) are another way of spreading the cost of land transport infrastructure over time and bringing fresh expertise and innovation to the sector.

Under the PPP regime established in this bill, Transit and territorial local authorities will be able to draw on financing and expertise from the private sector in constructing new infrastructure. Public road controlling authorities and private operators will be able to seek Ministerial approval for partnership arrangements following the normal competitive tender process. The private sector will operate the assets for a time before they revert to the public sector.

I welcome comments on the criteria for PPPs. The government has endeavoured to reach a balance between the importance of public control and ownership and the need to attract private sector financing.

As with toll roads, there are some conditions PPP projects must meet:

·Partnership arrangements will be limited to 35 years or less
·Land transport infrastructure will remain in public ownership
·Initial acquisition of land, and designation of land for roading, will remain with the public sector
·The public sector will not be liable to compensate any party if traffic numbers are below forecast for the life of the project
·The project must have a high degree of support from affected communities
·The final proposal must have ministerial approval.

The bill provides for operators to be licensed to use land for the purposes of the PPP and for some road management powers, essential for the construction and day to day operation of roads, to be delegated to the road operator.

Provisions relating to the constitution, status, functions and powers of Transfund and Transit are continued under a regime that reflects the Government’s current Crown entity policy for Crown agents. The bill also carries over provisions relating to the safety administration programme and Infrastructure Auckland.

The measures set out in this bill represent institutional arrangements that will allow New Zealand’s land transport system to move forward. This is vital to achieving economic growth in this country. The current, short-term narrowly focussed approach to land transport funding is not working. If we are going to address our transport deficit we need a more creative approach. This bill provides that.

I urge members to support the Bill.