Just before Christmas, Associate Transport Minister Julie-Ann Genter announced a $1.4billion, three-year programme of investment in          safety improvements to existing roads.

 

The funding will provide 900 kilometres of existing state highways with safety improvement infrastructure such as median and side barriers, rumble strips and shoulder widening, as well as contributing to an expanded investment in local road safety improvements.

 

Of course, such an investment in safety is welcome and I truly hope that it contributes to making significant parts of our roading network safer. However, the funding is also reflective of a broader change in direction from this government when it comes to the provision of transport infrastructure – and this is where I believe this country needs to rethink things.

 

The problem is that when it comes to infrastructure – and this goes beyond just transport infrastructure – investments are made for the long term....50 to 100 years ahead in many cases.

 

Very often the politicians who make these investment decisions aren’t around when the projects are realised – and, unless they have the longevity of Winston Peters, won’t be around to see their true benefits either.

 

This reality leads to short-termism. The three-year election cycle, the upcoming Cabinet reshuffle, making sure you keep party activists happy, or even just the need to differentiate yourself from your opponents, are all in the front of the minds of the politicians making these decisions….and to me that is where the problem lies.

 

The last government invested considerably in new, modern highways as its flagship transport projects, but the current government has made a political point in pivoting 180 degrees away from that programme – and has now set off on its own programme, with its own political agenda and vision for the future.....

 

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