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Sinking shipping is stupid

Written By: - Date published: 10:18 am, March 26th, 2009 - 10 comments
Categories: climate change, economy, national/act government, transport - Tags: , ,

The Maritime Union says the Government’s transport funding plan is an environmental and economic travesty.

The National Government has changed spending commitments of the previous Government and and released a statement on money it will put into developing land transport (including sea transport) for the next ten years.

The new plan includes a three year commitment to spending over seven billion dollars on road related expenditure – and even includes $51 million for cycling and walkways.

In comparison, it puts forward $1 million for “rail and sea freight” and $3 million for “domestic sea freight development.” (Yes – the figure is million not billion.)

That’s about one cent on rail and sea freight development for every twenty dollars on roads.

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says that over 99% of New Zealand imports and exports arrive by sea yet this transport mode was receiving enough money to pay for a few lifeboats.

Mr Hanson says the environmental and economic security outcomes of pouring all its resources into more and more roads were staggering.

“Does anyone in this Government have their head around the fact that the world is on the brink of an unprecedented energy crisis?”

He says that reliance on road transport made New Zealand completely dependent on secure supplies of cheap oil – something that will seem like a bad joke in ten years time.

“The only people who will be celebrating this are the boy racers.”

Mr Hanson says around the world Government’s are quickly moving to develop low impact, energy efficient infrastructure as the reality of climate change, peak oil and energy insecurity sinks in.

“The world has changed, but here in New Zealand the new Government has invested a thousand times more in the most environmentally damaging, energy wasteful transport modes than the transport modes of the future, shipping and rail.”

Mr Hanson says the lack of training, infrastructure and investment in coastal shipping has left an island nation in a state of complete vulnerability.

“The role of coastal shipping in the future of our ports has been a major discussion point in the transport industry, but seems to have been entirely missed by the Government.”

The Government says it wants to reduce road accidents, but is planning on increasing the amount of heavy transport and passenger cars on roads, which would obviously increase risks to motorists.

“Building more roads means encouraging more traffic in a vicious cycle that will only end when the cost of petrol causes economic meltdown. We need to get heavy freight off the roads and onto coastal shipping or the ‘blue highway’ and its natural partner rail.”

Mr Hanson says the previous Government had finally acknowledged the role of shipping with its Sea Change strategy, but the National Government had dropped the ball and shown a mentality that was a generation out of date.

He says he believes that road transport lobbyists had taken control of the Government’s agenda due to their political connections and the plan amounted to a multi billion dollar subsidy to trucking operators.

The statement that the Government wants to rebalance in favour of transport options ‘realistically available to New Zealanders now’ show this is a document without vision or forward thinking, says Mr Hanson.

The only reason that road transport is a realistic option is that it has billions of dollars of taxpayers money poured into it, he says.

The Maritime Union would be working to get changes to the plan.

“The only people who will be celebrating this are the boy racers.” – Gold.

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10 comments on “Sinking shipping is stupid ”

  1. Paul 1

    particularly relevant given this article in the ODT today

  2. Graeme 2

    Isn’t the major reason the last government was committed to coastal shipping that Peter Brown was in the merchant navy and got it added to NZF’s confidence and supply agreement?

    • Matthew Pilott 2.1

      I couldn’t tell you – the last GPS included an increase from 15% to 30% for sea freight though, so perhaps that’s what you were referring to. I don’t know from whence that target originated; either way, that was the target, and now it’s probably 5%.

    • Graeme 2.2

      Pretty much. Although looking into it further, I believe it may have been a budget-related matter, rather than the confidence agreement.

  3. DavidW 3

    UUmmmmm 20,000 jobs gained; 20,000 truckloads per day lost sounds like a zero sum game to me in a country where a truckload will take several days to get to where it is going which implies a truckdriver and his truck.

    Why would you bother?

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      Because the shipping is far more efficient than the trucking making the economy better off, ie, there would be more wealth available to do stuff.

  4. Kevin Welsh 4

    Look who the biggest cheerleader is for truck transport, one Tony Friedlander.

  5. Snail 5

    Toad wrote — I find the shortsightedness of National’s roads, roads and more roads approach impossible to fathom. It defies all logic, and raises suspicions that they have been bought by the road transport lobby.

    A bright fellow(/ess) who otherwise suggests to me rhetorical flourish above..

    Yes, suspicion is one thing. Though just as bond buyers in the back office back wouldbe investors in the front office then might we not ask for whom the backstory of road transportation serves.

    In the newly coined PM-speak whose ends are served at the end of this dark rainbow? Further, who and how might today’s deciders become tomorrow’s providers..

  6. The US of course shuts own more efficient foreign shippers who could easily transport cargo domestically on the ships that ply the coast currently with imports and exports and spare space. Hardly a green move in the US at all, when removing protectionism would do far far more good.

    The Maritime Union has successfully killed off the NZ shipping industry over the past few decades by ensuring that foreign owned shipping lines are far more competitive than their own featherbedded conditions. The biggest competitor on domestic freight routes is rail though. Coastal shipping is predominantly competitive on bulk commodities and long haul container freight, which is exactly the strengths of rail.

    So are you going to subsidise rail and shipping at the same time, or accept that the shipping industry should stand on its own feet, and those using the roads shouldn’t subsidise it. If rail could be financially self supporting, then shipping might get a fair deal, but subsidising rail will damage shipping more than road freight.

    That’s the banality behind the nonsense of subsidising modes that primarily compete!

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