Federated Farmers Submission for Government Policy Statement on Land Transport
Federated Farmers has a longstanding interest in transport infrastructure and how it is funded. Transport, and roading in particular, is of vital importance to farming and to rural communities. Roads are the only option for getting supplies to farms and for getting produce off farms. Roads are also crucial for farming families’ social and cultural links to the rest of the community (and further afield) and in the case of health and safety they are a lifeline. Unlike in urban areas, other modes such as walking, cycling and public transport are not options in the rural setting. Rail is important for transporting primary production from processing facilities to ports but is not able to be used for the movement of inputs on to farms and produce off farms.
It is disappointing that the draft Government Policy Statement (GPS) does not recognise the importance of agriculture to the economy or the need for a safe and efficient transport network for agriculture. This was also a failing of the 2017 draft GPS.
Although Federated Farmers mostly agrees with the draft GPS’s high-level strategic priorities, we struggle to understand why the previous priority of ‘economic growth and productivity’ has been subsumed within a new ‘access’ priority and significantly watered down. This is particularly curious given the Government’s stated priority to promote regional economic development.
With regard to the projected investment in activity classes, Federated Farmers welcomes the increases for local road improvements, local road maintenance, and regional improvements. However, rural roads must not miss out. The wording of the draft GPS, which is very urban-focused, gives us cause for concern. Federated Farmers is also very concerned about the slashing of funding for state highway improvements to fund very large increases for public transport, rapid transit, transitional rail, and walking and cycling improvements. We do not believe this dramatic shift in funding strikes an appropriate balance, especially from the perspective of rural and regional New Zealand.