National unveils $10.5 billion plan for 10 new major highways

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Motorists would get four-lane highways from Auckland to Whangarei under a $10 billion National Party policy announced today.

National returned to a familiar theme for its latest election policy, promising to build 10 major highways around the country if it remains in power after September.

One of the new Roads of National Signifcance will run between Wellsford and Whangarei, extending the Puhoi-Wellsford highway which was built under the previous series of major roading projects.

Roads of National Significance are usually four-lane highways, meaning there would be a continuous four-laned road for the entire 160km route between Auckland and Whangarei.

Speaking to reporters in the Hawkes Bay, Prime Minister Bill English said this would “unlock the potential” of the Northland region.

Among the other roading projects is the $1.8 billion East-West Link in Auckland.

Asked whether roading should be prioritised over issues like housing, health and education, English said the roading would support housing around New Zealand.

“More housing needs more roading, more water infrastructure,” he said. The roading projects would allow the Government to “get ahead of the curve on growth”.

National’s seven Roads of National Significance are either complete or being constructed, and Transport Minister Simon Bridges said it was time for “a new generation of nation-building projects”.

Bridges said the estimated cost the new projects was $10.5 billion, compared to the $12 billion for the previous seven projects. The projects were chosen because they were New Zealand’s highest-volume roads.

They would be funded through the National Land Transport Fund and private-public partnerships. The initial funding had already been committed to in this year’s Budget.

The seven previous projects were the Puhoi-Wellsford highway, the Western Ring Route in Auckland, the Victoria Park tunnel, the Waikato Expressway, Tauranga’s Eastern Link, Wellington’s Northern Corridor, and motorways around Christchurch.

This announcement came the same day as Labour’s campaign launch, but the PM assured it was not a strategic move.

“We don’t run the country according to the Labour party’s political needs. This has been a long term project, we signaled when we did the first roads of national significance that when we got those completed there would be another generation.”

He also disputed including the Wellsford to Whangerai road was a move to keep NZ First leader Winston Peters on side.

“This isn’t about politics, this is about the long term vision for New Zealand. You can’t just create these major projects on the back of some political debate.

“We’ve spent nine years building the first round of national significant roads, this is the next generation and it’s going to have effects for the next 20 to 30 years.”

The ten roading projects announced today are:

• Wellsford to Whangarei
• East West Link in Auckland
• Cambridge to Tirau
• Piarere to the foot of the Kaimai Range
• Tauranga to Katikati
• Napier to Hastings
• Manawatu Gorge
• Levin to Sanson
• Christchurch Northern Motorway
• Christchurch to Ashburton


Source  :  New Zealand Herald

Labour’s finance spokesman Grant Robertson: NZ should hold out for better TPP

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By Karen Sweeney


New Zealand should hold out for a better Trans Pacific Partnership deal that includes blocking offshore buyers purchasing existing residential homes, Labour’s finance spokesman Grant Robertson says.

The government on Thursday approved a mandate for negotiating a new TPP agreement with the remaining 11 nations after the US pulled out earlier this year.

Trade Minister Todd McClay is hopeful a proposed version of the agreement will be put to leaders at November’s APEC leaders meeting in Vietnam.

But Mr Robertson says now is an opportunity for New Zealand to renegotiate a better deal.

“Australia has protected for itself exactly the proposal we are making around making sure that offshore buyers can’t buy existing residential homes,” he told TVNZ’s Q&A program on Sunday.

“This is not about wishlists, this is just about getting New Zealand the same deal out of TPP that Australia’s got.”

But in an economic debate Finance Minister Steven Joyce argued renegotiating would take years, and it’s through existing rules that Australia secured that commitment rather than through the TPP talks.

“Australia had that long prior to TPP – the deal actually is that everybody continues with their previous laws unless they change them,” he said.

“New Zealand has one opportunity with the TPP. If we choose, along with everybody else, to say we want to renegotiate this, that and the other thing then TPP will take years.”

Mr Joyce said currently between two to three per cent of homebuyers and sellers were offshore, meaning the net increase was “virtually nil”.



Source  :  New Zealand Herald

Search resumes for two men lost in Central Plateau forest

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The search for two men lost in Tongariro National Park after a police chase has resumed this morning on the edge of Kaimanawa Forest.

The pair are believed to have fled police in a stolen car on Saturday before running into the bush. Yesterday they contacted police, saying they were lost and cold and needed help.

Police and a Land Search and Rescue team left the area shortly after 9pm last night after finding a number of items of interest.

Remnants of a campfire were found near to where the 111 call was made on Sunday morning.

Clothing and a shoe were found approximately 150m north of the fire.

Today 40 search and rescue volunteers have travelled from as far as Tauranga and Whanganui and will continue the intensive search in 10 teams of four. Because of poor weather a helicopter is unable to help.

The search will focus on the area radiating out from where the campfire and clothing was found.

Police believe the two men would now be in a very serious condition, likely suffering from hypothermia.

Inspector Kevin Taylor said the search teams would remain in the bush for the day.

“The bush is exceptionally dense and this is a challenging search.

“If the two individuals are not responsive, they will only be found once a searcher is in their immediate vicinity,” he said.

“The longer these young men remain in these conditions, the less likely it is that they will survive.”

Taylor said they remained determined and hopeful they would find them alive.

Further updates on the search will be released as they become available.


Source  :  New Zealand Herald

Arrest follows aggravated robbery at dairy in Waihou

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A 19-year-old man has been arrested in relation to the aggravated robbery of a dairy in Waihou last night.

Three people entered the rural Waikato dairy at around 6.40pm last night.

The trio allegedly threatened the shop owner with weapons, and took cigarettes and a phone.

They then fled the scene in a car, driven by a fourth offender.

Police located the car a short time later on State Highway 27 near Matamata.

The car did not stop for police and road spikes were deployed near Waharoa.

The offenders then fled on foot through farmland. A dog unit tracked one of the offenders to a nearby house and he will appear in court today.

Police inquiries are ongoing to locate the other three offenders.



Source  :  New Zealand Herald

Small plane crashes at Queenstown airport

A light plane crashed on take-off at Queenstown Airport this morning.

It was understood four people were on the plane. One has been taken to hospital with minor injuries.

Airport communications manager Jen Andrews said all flights were on hold.

“The airport’s emergency response plan was immediately activated and Rescue Fire service is at the scene and the ambulance is on its way.”

Details of the operator were not available.

Police said the crash happened at 8.51am.



Source  :  New Zealanbd Herald

Woman and baby hit by car in south Auckland

A woman and baby are in a stable condition after they were hit by a car in south Auckland this afternoon.

Emergency services were called to Rollerson Street in Papakura at 3.30pm after numerous calls regarding the incident.

A police spokesman said the woman and baby were believed to be pedestrians and the baby had “grazes and a hit to the head.”

There was also a report of female in the car with an injured leg.

A St John’s spokesperson confirmed an adult and child were transferred to Middlemore
Hospital and Kidz First in serious condition.

Police said the driver was male and they were investigating.

The Serious Crash Unit attended the scene.

No arrests had been made.


Source  :  New Zealand Herald

Drug detector dogs brought into Ronald McDonald House

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Detection dogs were brought into Auckland’s Ronald McDonald House on Wednesday after staff became suspicious someone had brought drugs in.

The sweep was announced in a letter sent out to families staying at the Auckland house on Wednesday, telling families that “unfortunately is has been necessary to bring the drug detector dogs through the house today”.

“We treat the breaking of any house rules very seriously, as these rules are in place to ensure the safety of all families and their comfort while staying at Ronald McDonald House,” the letter read.

The houses in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch are a home away from home for sick children and their whanau during hospital treatment.

When asked by the Weekend Herald, a spokeswoman said there had been some suspicion someone had drugs on the property but she would not be drawn on what specifically caused staff to bring detector dogs in.

She also did not say what kind of drugs were suspected to be in the house.

No drugs were found during the search.

Police said they had no record of the incident and a private company, New Zealand Detector Dogs, had been used.

Infrequent drug checks of the house were part of normal procedure, the spokeswoman said, however when pressed she admitted this was not a routine check.

“They had reason to believe that someone was in the house who had drugs … they just had a suspicion of it,” she said.

“[Drug detectors] came in and they found nothing.”

The Auckland house had about 47 families staying in it at the moment and their safety was the organisation’s top priority.

Sometimes one family having a suspicion that another might be using drugs was enough to take action – as a precaution, she said.

New Zealand Detector Dogs managing director Janet Williams declined to comment on the matter, saying the company did not give information about the jobs they went on.


Source  :  New Zealand Herald