Call for more equitable road funding

MICHAEL FALLOW
Last updated 05:00 04/09/2014

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The Government is keen to collect "much better data" on the state of regions such as Southland, Prime Minister John Key said in Invercargill yesterday.

New Zealand Institute of Economic Research economist Shamubeel Eaqub has criticised the information base which the Government uses to make decisions affecting regional economies. Key said the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment had been trying to collate "much better data".

"We ourselves have been wanting to demonstrate, actually, to the regions that we think they have been doing a lot better than sometimes they themselves think," he said.

"And I think that is being borne out by some of the data we are starting now to amass."

The Government wanted good regional development, he said.

"Otherwise all the pressure goes on the infrastructure of our major cities like Auckland and Christchurch - which is very expensive from our point of view."

Southland has "a hell of a lot going for it" from agriculture, strong industries and "potentially minerally", Key said.

The Government was driving economic development through rural broadband, ultrafast broadband in certain parts, using visas to provide more incentives for migrants to go into the regions and "making sure the roading network is improved".

It is investing $212 million, from asset sales, in regional roads and in a draft policy statement plans to spend $39 billion during the next decade on land transport.

Southern local authorities, Venture Southland and the Southland Chamber of Commerce have been backing the call from Local Government NZ for a more equitable system of sharing roading funds throughout New Zealand.

"That's always complex," Key said.

The Government tried to work through Local Government NZ when it was allocating roading funds, he said.

"My understanding is I don't think it's been completely finalised although they are getting much closer."

There would be some councils that don't think they have been apportioned the right amount, Key said.

"But unfortunately its one of those things - across 80-odd councils around the country, we try and get that right but there are always some that do a little bit better than others."

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