Jun 21, 2008

Why The Maori Party Should Oppose Land Transport Legislation

The Government is in much greater trouble than most media commentators are prepared to admit. This is no more obvious than in the area of land transport administration. There is real doubt over whether the Government has the numbers to get through its proposed changes to the way in which land transport is administered regionally and nationally (nationally the plan is to merge Land Transport New Zealand with Transit - the new entity was meant to be up and running bu 1 July). The Maori Party's support is crucial but the caucus failed to get around to considering this issue last week. NZ First will support the legislation but the cost for this support is the axing of the regional fuel tax. With the excise take on fuel down thanks to lower demand, this tax is critical for the delivery of road and rail projects in the Auckland area.

Transport is administered regionally through regional land transport committees. These committees are made up of council representatives, representatives of Tansit and Land Transport NZ, and representatives of various interests health, mobility, sustainability, cultural interests etc. Local Iwi are usually represented in the cultural portfolio. At present these interest groups have voting rights, but one of the little nasties included in the two transport bills is the withdrawal of this voting right (apparently local Government politicians want more power and lobbied hard for this change). So, Maori Party, here is an issue you should get your teeth into. Don't support the legislation in its current form. The Government wants your support more than it wants the support of NZ First. You are therefore in a very strong position to force a change so that the interest groups continue to have full voting rights.