As Chief Executive of the Ministry of Transport, I am delighted to present a review of the Ministry’s activities over what has been a challenging and busy year.
The Ministry’s role is to be the government’s policy adviser on transport matters. We aim to provide expert and impartial advice to the government to help it ensure that the transport system supports our needs and aspirations as a nation.
Responding to the new government’s transport priorities has been a key focus for us; ensuring that transport plays its role in supporting the government’s priority of improving economic growth and productivity effectively.
The release of the amended Government Policy Statement on Land Transport Funding (GPS) was a major project this year. Investment in transport infrastructure has been identified by the government as crucial to achieving economic growth, so funding has been reprioritised to ensure this goal can be met.
Progress made in other areas by the Ministry over the past year included carrying out a comprehensive review of the road user charges system, identifying the initial list of Roads of National Significance, developing a Bill to tackle illegal street racing and reviewing domestic aviation security.
The repeal of regional fuel tax and taking over policy responsibility for rail were part of a raft of other decisions taken by the government to redirect its policy and funding. These matters have kept the Ministry extremely busy during the second half of the financial year.
Our strong focus on, and commitment to, addressing road safety continued to be a priority for the Ministry. In 2008 we experienced the lowest road toll in 50 years with 365 deaths. While this was an improvement, we must continue to work on reducing fatal and injury crashes. The development of Safer Journeys, a discussion document leading to a road safety strategy to take New Zealand through to 2020, will help to address this issue. The final strategy will be launched in December 2009.
Since joining the Ministry in September 2008, I have spent considerable time listening to our transport sector colleagues and to Ministry staff so that I could develop a clear view of the issues facing transport in New Zealand. In the last year we have also been strongly reminded of how global circumstances affecting New Zealand can change. I have been encouraging the Ministry to develop a view of the critical issues that are likely to impact on transport in New Zealand in the foreseeable future. This is an important sector leadership function of the Ministry.
The change of government in November 2008 brought with it a different view of the priorities for the transport sector, and the Ministry has worked hard to review programmes and policy to support these priorities.
These changes have reinforced for me how important it is for the Ministry to operate in a manner which is flexible and responsive to government. Further, that our ability to serve the government effectively is heavily dependent on our maintaining expert knowledge and sound relationships throughout the transport sector, and the rest of government. These considerations, together with the need to operate with fiscal constraint for the foreseeable future, are the basis for changes I am leading in the way we operate – to ensure that we are more effective and efficient, and deliver value for money.
In April 2009, I began the process of reorganising the Ministry. Our new structure was in place by 1 September 2009. It provides the platform for the Ministry to improve how it goes about its business of being the government’s trusted, impartial and expert adviser on transport related matters.
I am proud of the work achieved by the Ministry over the past year, and I look forward to working with Ministry staff to provide the best possible advice we can to support the government in delivering its transport programme to New Zealand.
30 September 2009