Transport and Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges announced today the rural ring road for Palmerston North is a step closer, with funding confirmed for the next stage of two key sections of the route.
The two projects will improve the connections on State Highway 3 between Kairanga and Bunnythorpe, and on Napier Road, from Keith Street to Whakarongo.
“The Palmerston North Rural Ring Road is an important part of the Manawatu-Whanganui freight distribution network,” Mr Bridges says.
The rural ring road will connect the distribution hub to the Manawatu Gorge, Bulls, and the State Highway network to Wellington as well as improving the route to Whanganui.
“With 23,000 vehicles using the route between the City and Fielding every day it’s essential that this important route is developed to enable the safe movement of commuter and freight traffic,” Mr Bridges says.
Once complete, the route will cut travel times for the movement of freight, promote economic development and make residential streets safer.
“The Manawatu region is an important transport link through the North Island. It is vital that the transport network enables economic growth, not only for this region, but for the country,” Mr Bridges says.
Engagement with key stakeholders and community representatives will commence in May 2017 with construction expected to begin early 2018.
Funding for the initial investigation of the ring road was announced as part of the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Economic Development Action Plan, Accelerate25, launched on 12 August 2016.
A bill that will streamline the process for installing Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) passed its third and final reading in Parliament today.
Communications Minister Simon Bridges says the Telecommunications (Property Access and Other Matters) Amendment Bill will make it faster and easier for people to connect to high-speed internet.
“The Bill introduces a new, simplified consenting process that telecommunications companies must follow when installing modern networks like UFB, in instances where there are multiple interests in a property. For example, shared driveways and common areas of multi-unit complexes,” Mr Bridges says.
“These changes will provide better outcomes for an estimated 71,000 households that are currently unable to connect to fibre due to problems obtaining active consent to install it.
“The changes support the Government’s ambitious UFB programme, helping us achieve our target of providing up to 85 per cent of New Zealanders with access to fibre by the end of 2024,” Mr Bridges says.
The Bill also incentivises telecommunications companies to use lower impact methods of installation where possible to reduce property disruption, and enables the use of existing infrastructure (such as electricity lines) for deploying fibre optic cable in rural areas.
“This Bill will open up access to faster, more reliable internet whichis a vital part of our plan in developing a more productive and competitive economy,” Mr Bridges says.
The new consenting process will come into force mid-2017
Transport Minister Simon Bridges is welcoming the awarding of the contract to improve one of the North Island’s highest-risk intersections.
The NZ Transport Agency has awarded the contract for a range of improvements at the Watchman Road/Meeanee Quay intersection on State Highway 2, Napier, to Higgins Construction.
The project involves the construction of a roundabout at the intersection, the widening and strengthening of Watchman Road, and the construction of a new road from Hawke’s Bay Airport to link to Watchman Road.
Minister Bridges say the roundabout and improved airport access will provide a safer, more efficient intersection.
“This project will also deliver better access to both the airport and the Napier Port, providing for seamless freight movement around the region.
“Hawke's Bay is a thriving local economy, and supporting regional economic development through investing in projects like these is a key priority for the Government,” Mr Bridges says.
Work on the $13 million project which is jointly funding from the National Land Transport Fund, Hawke’s Bay Airport and Napier City Council is due to commence shortly.
The project is part of the Governments $25 million package of road access improvements to Napier Port, announced as part of the Matariki – Hawke’s Bay Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan, launched in July 2016.
Communications Minister Simon Bridges today launched CERT NZ, a new cyber security unit that will help New Zealanders respond to online threats.
CERT NZ was announced as part of Budget 2016, receiving $22.2 million of funding over four years. It will serve as the first place for New Zealanders to report a cyber incident. “Secure, dependable ICT infrastructure is more important than ever before. New Zealand’s economic growth, productivity and international competitiveness are increasingly underpinned by digital technology,” says Mr Bridges.
“ICT is changing the way businesses and government engage, how education and healthcare are delivered, how primary industries operate, and how people and communities interact.
“It is important that we strike a balance between innovation, security and privacy protection to ensure that all New Zealanders are secure, safe and confident online, in this increasingly digital world,” Mr Bridges says.
The unit will sit at the centre of New Zealand’s cyber security architecture to deliver on five core functions of incident reporting, response coordination, readiness support, vulnerability identification and threat identification.
“We want to build a confident, secure and engaged online New Zealand as the ever-evolving digital world increasingly impacts on almost all aspects of our lives.”
“CERT NZ will make it easier for people at work and at home to understand, prevent and recover from cyber security incidents.”
New Zealand joins a large and sophisticated global network of CERTs, in which it will play an important role developing and executing best practice processes and systems to prevent and respond to cyber security incidents.
“Access to international best practice and threat information will increase our ability to protect our information and systems against cyber threats. It will also enhance New Zealand’s reputation as a trusted business and security partner, which has benefits to our economy and our many businesses that rely on international trade,” Mr Bridges says.
For more information go to https://www.cert.govt.nz/.
Communications Minister Simon Bridges today announced a reduction in radio spectrum fees and a simplified regime, to come into effect later this year.
The changes will reduce the average annual fee for a licence from around $200 to $150 (including GST). They will also make the fees regime simpler by reducing the number of fee categories from 47 to four.
“The new regime is much simpler and fairer for licence holders,” Mr Bridges says.
“Since the last fees review was undertaken, radio spectrum management costs have declined due to a move to online systems and a strong focus on efficiency and cost control. We’re now passing those benefits on to licence holders.
“The reduction in licence fees will also help reduce the current surplus in the radio spectrum management account, before fees are reviewed again in three years’ time.
“This reflects the need to remain flexible in how we manage the radio spectrum, given the changing nature of the telecommunications environment. The primary objective is to ensure the regime continues to be equitable and fit for purpose,” Mr Bridges says.
Amateur radio licences will continue to have their own fee category, with annual fees set at $50 (including GST), consistent with the current regime.
The changes will take effect in late 2017, following notification in the Gazette.
More information is available at www.rsm.govt.nz.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges today opened the Western Rail Trail shared pathway, a new link in Hamilton’s growing walking and cycling network.
The $6.7 million, 2.7km path is a key part in Hamilton’s network linking Hamilton’s south-western suburbs of Glenview, Melville, and Deanwell, with Hamilton Girls’ High School, the Wintec City Campus and city centre.
“Now that this dedicated off-road link is complete, commuters, tertiary students and the 1,600 school children who live within 500 metres of this route have more transport choices.
“Hamilton has already built over 150km of its cycling network and the completion of this shared pathway will help to establish cycling as a safe and integral part of the city’s transport network,” Mr Bridges says.
The project has signage and landscaping features that highlight the early rail history of the area.
“This new interactive scenic route will also encourage more walking and cycling in the city and create a fun, healthy way to get around,” Mr Bridges says.
Through the Urban Cycleways Programme, central and local government are working together to deliver $333 million of new cycleway projects nationwide by June 2018, the single biggest investment in cycling in New Zealand’s history.
In total 54 projects are being funded through the programme nationwide.
More information can be found at: www.nzta.govt.nz/UCP.
The Government and New Plymouth District Council have agreed in principle to transfer New Plymouth Airport to local government ownership, Transport Minister Simon Bridges says.
“The Crown will transfer its 50 percent stake in New Plymouth Airport to its joint venture partner, the Council, after they expressed interest in full ownership of the Airport,” Mr Bridges says.
“The Council is responsible for running and managing the day to day operation of the Airport, and transferring the Crown’s ownership will allow it to continue developing the airport’s assets to meet growing passenger numbers.
“Full local ownership will provide some real opportunities for Taranaki and the airport to maximise regional economic growth,” Mr Bridges says.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges broke ground today on the Hutt Road Cycleway upgrade, the first project in Wellington City’s refreshed Urban Cycleways Programme.
“The existing shared path along Hutt Road was installed in 1995 and today is the busiest cycling route into the central city. This $6.5 million investment will increase safety and improve user experience,” Mr Bridges says.
The upgrade will provide a wider dedicated cycleway, alongside a separated pedestrian path, with poles and other hazards being removed. The surface along the cycleway will also be smoother and the Kaiwharawhara Stream bridge widened.
Two bus stops will be amalgamated to increase efficiency and improve safety, as well as layout changes and the installation of bus queue lanes at Ngauranga.
“These improvements will provide safer, more appealing choices for everyday travel and connect cyclists with a wider cycling network,” Mr Bridges says.
The Hutt Road Cycleway is the first of two stages in Wellington’s Northern Connection, running from Bunny Street to Ngauranga and eventually connecting with other projects all the way through to Melling in Lower Hutt.
“It’s exciting to launch the first of Wellington’s refreshed Urban Cycleways Programme projects, and to see work on the capital’s cycling network progress,” Mr Bridges says.
The Hutt Road Cycleway is a part of the refreshed Wellington Urban Cycleways Programme and is jointly funded by Wellington City Council and the Government.
The Government is investing $333 million nationwide for cycleways projects, the biggest investment in cycling in New Zealand’s history.
More information about the Urban Cycleways Programme can be found at: www.nzta.govt.nz/UCP.
Economic Development and Transport Minister Simon Bridges says significant employment opportunities are being created by construction of the City Rail Link (CRL) in Auckland.
The joint project between Government and Auckland Council is New Zealand’s largest transport infrastructure project. Construction of the early works began in December 2015, with the project expected to be complete by 2024.
“The CRL will provide significant transport benefits in the future, and it is already bringing economic benefits to Aucklanders and New Zealanders through the hundreds of employment opportunities being created during construction,” Mr Bridges says.
“Construction is continuing to expand, with two contracts underway and more to follow. It is estimated that about 600 general construction workers will be needed for the construction of the CRL with an estimated 1600 jobs at the peak of works.”
Labour requirements for the CRL will vary with opportunities for new entrants to the workforce as well as for skilled labour and trades including plumbers and electricians and those involved in specialist rail systems and signalling.
Mr Bridges says major infrastructure projects like the CRL are supporting strong economic growth.
“The construction industry is booming with the national demand for building and construction being heavily driven by Auckland. New Zealand continues to construct more by value than ever before with the total value expected to grow to $37 billion towards the end of 2017,” Mr Bridges says.
Communications Minister Simon Bridges has today welcomed the launch of a digital sector and government alliance to explore the economic and social benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT).
IoT is a concept that involves connecting devices to the internet, enabling them to ‘talk’ to each other and to people. For example, smartphones might prompt people to take a specific route to an event because it has access to their current location and calendar.
Speaking at The Grid, an innovation precinct in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter, Minister Bridges said the Alliance would help harness the potential of IoT.
“IoT is a transformative technology, one that promises to boost productivity across all major sectors of the economy, assist in monitoring our health, make transport and logistics more efficient, help reduce energy consumption and tackle environmental issues,” Mr Bridges says.
“The Government has a key role to play in ensuring that New Zealand can take advantage of what IoT has to offer. The Alliance will provide a forum for enabling us to better understand the benefits and potential issues of IoT, such as privacy and cyber security.
“Initial research by the Alliance, which will provide an evidence base for future work, already suggests potential economic benefits to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars for the New Zealand economy through the deployment of IoT across a variety of sectors.”
The Alliance is one of several new initiatives included in the new Building a Digital Nation report, which Minister Bridges released at the Alliance launch event.
“The digital economy is a key focus of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda. This report sets out how the Government is partnering with New Zealand’s digital sector, with other sectors of the economy and the wider digital community, to enable New Zealand to become a leading digital nation.
“This is the first time the full programme of activity has been pulled together in one place, serving as a focal point for ongoing engagement with the digital community and for shaping and driving New Zealand’s digital transformation,” Mr Bridges says.
The Building a Digital Nation report and further information is available here.