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New Zealand

‘Stop penny pinching’: Big investment in roads needed, says Bridges

photograph: Dom Thomas

Future-proofing the state highway network after Cyclone Gabriel and flood events should be a priority, said Simon Bridges, CEO of Auckland Business Chambers and former Minister of Transport.

Waka Kotahi said it will take months, if not years of patch-ups and complete rebuilding, before the country’s road network returns to its original state.

State Highway 25A, an important route to the Coromandel, will be out of service for one year.

Bridges said Checkpoint It wasn’t so much a question of funding as it was of long-term planning.

“We have to worry about quality. It’s an investment. We don’t have to do the old pay-as-you-go thing. We can do it over time.”

The bigger issue, he said, is competence and competence, and whether there are companies and workers to do the work.

A new visa was in place to bring in expert workers from abroad to help rebuild Auckland from Cyclone Gabriel and the floods.

Bridges said he was happy about this, but worried about the short-term nature of the visa.

“There are some big issues here with funding, but especially our ability to do this.

“Once we get here, let’s do it properly.”

So how does the government pay for this?

Grant Robertson, Minister of Finance and Cyclone Recovery, Not ruling out the “cyclone tax” We fund solutions and rebuilds.

was the position of the National Party criticized supported by the Green Party.

Bridges said he believes borrowing is acceptable because this is a generational issue.

“We have low public debt and I think that encourages an investment approach. What we have to see is not penny pinching these major highways. ”

Some of the issues could be depoliticized, he said.

“I’m sitting there thinking really that there should be cross-party support to do some of the urgent roads that are needed at the pace.”

Mr Bridges said he would be “surprised and disappointed” if political parties voted against the kind of legislation passed after the Kaikoura earthquake that “undermined part of the bureaucracy” if it didn’t go too far. said it would.

“Everyone understands that these roads need to be rebuilt urgently as these roads are lifelines and some of the other roads may take a little longer and not reach the same standards. are doing.

“Think long term. These are investments, not penny pinches.”

In his opening statement to parliament last week, National Party leader Christopher Luxon spoke of the need for bipartisan solutions, including in response to the cyclone.

“If governments feel they need a special law that actually allows for rapid rebuilding and allows the building of critical infrastructure, we will be very supportive of it.”

https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/485050/let-s-not-penny-pinch-large-scale-investment-in-roading-needed-bridges-says ‘Stop penny pinching’: Big investment in roads needed, says Bridges

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