When Ken Shirley was first elected to Parliament in 1984, replacing former Prime Minister Bill Rowling in the Tasman seat, he said he couldn’t fill Rowling’s shoes….but he would try to follow in his footsteps.
The boot is now on my foot – so to speak – as I replace Ken as chief executive of the Road Transport Forum. Ken is synonymous with the RTF in the minds of many and so to immediately step into his shoes would be a very big task.
However, I do wish to follow in his footsteps – and, while I will be different to Ken in many ways, like him, I have a deep appreciation for the road transport industry and the critical role it plays in the New Zealand economy. This appreciation comes from a passion for infrastructure and transport borne out of my own political experiences.
Up until 2016, I was Mayor of Porirua City and a Porirua city councillor before that. I’m proudly born and bred in the city, but like most Kiwis I have some pretty decent Mainland roots and I have always appreciated the huge value that rural and provincial NZ brings to NZ.
I’ve been an outspoken champion of roading development for a long time. Within the next couple of years Porirua will have the new Transmission Gully highway running through it, a project that I was a staunch advocate for during my time in local politics. But it isn’t just the roads in my patch that I am interested in. I’ve always taken the view that there is no use in the four-lane highway outside my home being upgraded….if that stops five kilometres up the road.
All that achieves is to simply shift the congestion outside somebody else’s house. It doesn’t fix the problem, it just moves it. For me, the solution is in a regional and national roading network that builds our nation’s capacity to grow and enables our economy to function at its maximum potential...
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