This has been an interesting and productive year for the Ministry. We have defined our purpose more clearly and worked hard to translate this not only into immediate actions but also into a new focus on the future. Our greatest imaginable challenge is to create the environment to double the value from transport initiatives, and we are now concentrating our energies on ensuring that our work will make a difference to the whole transport system.
This challenge reflects the high level of aspiration we have set ourselves as a Ministry which, notwithstanding the good work we already do, will drive us to further lift our performance and capability over the next two years. A review of the Ministry using the Performance Improvement Framework (PIF Review) confirmed this aspiration and the importance for us to focus on further lifting our performance and capability if we are to fulfill our purpose.
The focus we now have on the whole system is reflected in some of the new work that we have started this year. We have worked to establish a better picture of how freight moves around New Zealand. We have started to develop a strategy for improving New Zealand’s vehicle fleet, and we commenced a project to ‘map’ the entire transport system.
The Ministry plays a critical role in the transport system, and the transport system is vital to New Zealand’s success, economically and socially. Transport is inextricably linked to the government’s priority for economic growth and productivity, and its Business Growth Agenda. We have continued to deliver the Minister of Transport’s priorities by focusing on:
- investment in infrastructure
- better quality regulation
- a safe and responsible transport system
- opening markets
- improving the performance of transport sector agencies.
In the last year, we have delivered regulatory reform that progresses the government’s policy of better regulation. For example, Cabinet approved our recommendations to introduce changes to the warrant of fitness, certificate of fitness, annual vehicle licensing and transport services licensing systems that will save New Zealanders $1.8 billion over the next 30 years. Our Agricultural Vehicle Reforms will benefit the agriculture sector by creating a two-tier approach to warrants of fitness, and simplifying the rules around the use of agricultural vehicles. These reforms save the sector $51 million over the next 25 years and promote a safe, commonsense approach to regulation for the agriculture sector.
We have also been working to deliver safer journeys for New Zealanders. Our first Safer Journeys Action Plan was successfully completed, and the Ministry has led initiatives with other government agencies to affect better outcomes on our roads. Too many people are still dying or being injured on our roads. However, the road toll has decreased from 384 road deaths in 2009, to 308 in 2012. To continue this downward trend, a new Safer Journeys Action Plan has been developed for 2013-15 and this focuses on safer roads, safer speeds, safer vehicles and safer road use.
This year has seen our most active round of air negotiations ever. New or amended open skies agreements have been agreed with Paraguay, Uruguay, Kuwait, Iceland, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and French Polynesia. Opening aviation markets is critical for tourism and trade links, and these new agreements support our goal to help New Zealand thrive.
The year ahead will be challenging as we stretch ourselves towards our greatest imaginable challenge. We are engaging in many policy projects that will lead towards better infrastructure development and higher quality regulation. We will continue to undertake this work with the flexible, capable approach that we have adopted over the past