Public wants link road - Smith

Nelson MP Nick Smith is claiming public backing for the southern link road from his annual electorate survey although fewer than 5 per cent of households took part.

Dr Smith said 81 per cent of respondents supported progress on the southern link, with 17 per cent opposed.

"This is a very strong endorsement of public support for this infrastructure project and will help my endeavours to persuade NZTA and council that we need to make progress," he said.

However, the survey received just 1258 responses from 27,000 forms posted out to households, a return of just below 4.7 per cent. He has been conducting the survey every year since 1996 and said the response was above the average of about 1000.

Dr Smith also questioned households on the plain packaging of cigarettes, the Lee Valley Dam and support for an America's Cup bid.

The Government's bill requiring plain packaging of cigarettes was backed by 72 per cent of respondents as opposed to 16 per cent opposed.

"This issue reflects a tension between freedom of expression and public health and shows that when it comes to tobacco, the public overwhelmingly back health. I will be passing these results on to the select committee considering the bill."

In a remarkably similar result, the survey also found 72 per cent of respondents supported taxpayer funding for the proposed Lee Valley dam compared with 17 per cent opposed, and a far closer margin of 34 per cent in support and 30 per cent opposed to ratepayer support.

This was all conditional on landowners and growers contributing significantly to the cost and he would try to secure Government support for the dam, Dr Smith said.

The closest result was on whether the Government should provide funding support for Team NZ to mount another challenge for the America's Cup with 49 per cent in support and 46 per cent opposed.

"I take from this Nelson is quite split and that Government needs to ensure that the bulk of the money for any further challenge must come from sources beyond Government."

Dr Smith said the surveys were not a perfect measure, as few issues came down to a simple yes or no.

"However, they are a useful guide to Nelsonians' views on topical issues and help me effectively represent Nelson in Parliament."


Southern link: yes 1011, no 218. Plain packaging for cigarettes: yes 988, no 198. Lee Valley Dam: Taxpayer support yes 913, no 200; ratepayer support yes 424, no 377. America's Cup funding: yes 619, no 578. Forms sent out: 27,000.

The Nelson Mail