Nelson MP Nick Smith is disappointed that an amendment to the Covid-19 Fast Tracking Bill in Parliament last night to accelerate solutions to Nelson’s transport issues was voted down by the Labour NZ First and Green Parties.
“Nelson’s transport issues will just continue to get worse, particularly with the Princes Drive intersection and traffic lights on Waimea Road completion next month. The Government is fast tracking billions of dollars of roading projects in other parts of New Zealand but ignoring Nelson’s need for progress.
“It rubs salt in the wound that the Government put fuel tax up by 4 cents a litre this week and Road User Charges up 5% without any commitment to investment in Nelson’s highways. Nelson and Tasman households and businesses are now paying $100 million a year into the National Land Transport Fund but getting little in return. We are paying more for less.
Dr Smith’s amendment would have added Nelson’s transport issues to the list of projects that would have access to a fast track Resource Management Act process. The original Bill lists ten projects around New Zealand and the fast track process would apply for a period of two years.
“It is incorrect for the Government to discount the Nelson projects on the basis that they are not shovel ready. Most of the listed projects will take at least two years before construction begins.
“My broader concern is that Nelson city businesses and particularly retailers are having a difficult economic time post Covid-19 lockdown. They will continue to lose jobs, sales and investment to Richmond while the congestion and access for most of the Nelson region into the city is constrained.
“My greatest disappointment of Winston Peter’s decision of installing a Labour led Government was cancelling National’s commitment to fund and construct the Southern Link. I will continue to use every avenue possible to improve the transport links between the region and the city and port.