Brian Rudman is a NZ Herald feature writer and columnist.

Brian Rudman: Southern mayors must get facts right

Tim Shadbolt. Photo / Getty Images
Tim Shadbolt. Photo / Getty Images

South Island mayors should do their homework before firing their water pistols at rapacious Auckland.

They look north to the rapidly expanding Super City and enviously assume it must be getting more than its fair share of Government funds.

If only that was true. Before they make fools of themselves, they'd be wise to stop listening to renegade Aucklander Tim Shadbolt and do the sums. Calculate the government spend on roads per region, for example, and then crawl quietly back under the nearest haystack.

To suggest a provincial-anchored National Government would favour Auckland over its heartland supporters is risible.

Over the next three years, the Auckland region will receive just 28 per cent of the funds New Zealand Transport Authority plans to spend on roads and public transport. As home to roughly one-third of New Zealanders, Auckland is being short changed at least $500 million.

But nothing is new. Green Party researchers calculate that in the 15 years to 2005, Aucklanders paid $7.022 billion in fuel taxes but only got $3.222 billion in transport related expenditure. No bets on which rural electorates got the missing cash.

The southern mayors argue they produce more exports than Auckland so deserve a special deal, which over-rides a population-based allocation of funds. But cows and sheep don't need multi-lane highways or modern public transport to get to the freezing works or milking sheds.

If the South Islanders reckon they're being short-changed, then by all means, lobby for more. But first, come up with some facts, don't assume it's the nasty Jafas to blame just because refugee Tim says so.

- NZ Herald

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Brian Rudman is a NZ Herald feature writer and columnist.

Brian Rudman's first news story was for Auckland University student paper Outspoke, exposing an SIS spy on campus during the heady days of the Vietnam War. It resulted in a Commission of Inquiry and an award for student journalist of the year. A stint editing the Labour Party's start-up Auckland newspaper NZ Statesman followed. Rudman decided journalism was the career for him, but the NZ Herald and Auckland Star thought otherwise when he came job-hunting. After a year on the "hippy trail" overland to London, he spent four years on Fleet St with various British provincial papers. He then joined the Auckland Star, winning the Dulux Journalist of the Year award for coverage of the 1976 Dawn Raids against Polynesian overstayers. He has also worked on the NZ Listener, Auckland Sun, and since 1996, for the NZ Herald as feature writer and columnist. He has a BA in History and Politics.

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