2009/10 has been a year of significant change, challenge and achievement for the Ministry. The government’s key focus is on lifting New Zealand’s economic growth and productivity, and transport makes a significant positive contribution to these goals. The Minister of Transport has been very clear about his priority areas for transport which are land transport infrastructure, road safety and value for money.
To support these priorities the Ministry has worked closely with the NZ Transport Agency in the implementation of the Roads of National Significance programme. The Ministry also led work to amend the Vehicle Dimensions and Mass Rule to enable more freight to be carried on fewer trucks, therefore reducing operating costs, congestion and vehicle emissions.
The Ministry’s work programme supported the wide range of Auckland governance-related issues to ensure that an integrated transport solution can be delivered. The Ministry worked with the KiwiRail Group to develop their Turnaround Plan. This resulted in an in-principle investment agreement by government in the rail freight business over the next three years. The Ministry also worked with KiwiRail on a number of initiatives in relation to Auckland and Wellington metro rail networks and rolling stock.
The Minister of Transport has been unequivocal in his commitment to reducing the number of New Zealanders being killed and injured on our roads. This has also been a key focus for the Ministry throughout the year, culminating in the release of Safer Journeys: New Zealand’s road safety strategy 2010–2020. The development of the strategy was a truly collaborative effort across government and key stakeholders. Other significant road safety achievements for the year were the introduction of new laws covering illegal street racing and drug impaired driving, a ban on using hand-held mobile phones, and a number of other rules to make our roads safer.
The Ministry engaged with the aviation and finance sectors leading to the government’s agreement in March 2010 to New Zealand’s accession to the Cape Town Convention and an associated protocol on aircraft equipment. By taking this treaty action, New Zealand becomes part of an international system to protect commercial security interests in mobile aircraft equipment. As a consequence, New Zealand’s aircraft operators will be able to access discounted finance internationally for future aircraft acquisitions or leases.
In an effort to drive down costs and increase efficiency and effectiveness across the transport system, the Ministry initiated a number of reviews of legislation concerning land transport and Crown agency funding and management. These include the Land Transport Management Act, the Public Transport Management Act, and road user charges as well as reviews of the Civil Aviation Authority, the New Zealand Aviation Security Service and Maritime New Zealand.
As part of its own value-for-money initiatives, the Ministry was restructured to enable it to be more flexible and responsive to the highest priority policy issues for the government while maintaining a focus on long-term transport knowledge and issues. The Ministry developed and implemented its Shaping our Future programme to move away from operating as a conventional public sector department towards operating in a manner more consistent with a professional services organisation.
I am very proud of the work achieved by the Ministry throughout 2009/10 and I look forward to another busy and challenging year. I am confident that the Ministry is well placed to handle the transport challenges I know it will face now and in the future.