Affordable, healthy housing and alternative transport options are Green Party priorities that could have particular impact in Whanganui, Green MP Julie Anne Genter says.
Genter, the Minister for Women and Associate Minister for Transport and Health, met Whanganui locals on Monday evening to talk about what the party has achieved in the past two years and the policies it will push for next year's election.
It was the last stop on a nationwide tour by Green MPs and Genter said it was a great opportunity and one of her favourite parts of the job.
"I think it's easy when you're working away in Wellington to lose a bit of perspective and it's really important to get out there and talk to people in different parts of New Zealand and hear how they're thinking about things.
"The beltway is often focused on really trivial things and you can get a lot more meaningful information engaging with people outside the beltway."
Genter said looking at inequality in housing was one priority for the Green Party heading into the next election and the party believed the Government needed to move faster to address the issue.
"I think it has been good that we've built a lot more state houses and we're really ramping that up but we just need to see a long-term commitment to direct building of state houses and increasing the supply.
"Looking at other countries and how they've delivered affordable housing, there's many things that need to be done.
"Increasing the supply of state houses is one, and ensuring we have a government builder who can compete in the market and bring scale so we can get more efficient building techniques.
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"Housing is a human right and so we need to have affordable, healthy housing and we can, but we do need a lot more government intervention for that to occur."
When it comes to alternative methods of travel to cars, Genter said there could be increases in people choosing alternatives in places like Whanganui.
"There are many small, rural towns in places like Germany and the Netherlands that have much higher levels of people walking and cycling, it's just about ensuring the infrastructure is there to make it safe.
"Whanganui would benefit as much as Auckland and Wellington from making it safe for kids to walk and cycle to school, and that's something that's probably more achievable here because everything is so close."
Two weeks ago Genter announced nationwide plans for speed limits around urban schools to be 40km/h and 60km/h around rural schools. The following day Transport Minister Phil Twyford was in Whanganui to officially open a shared pathway that aims to make it safer for students to travel around some city schools.
Genter said a focus on public transport, walking and cycling in New Zealand's larger cities could free up transport funds for regional roading issues, such as work on State Highway 4.
"It's silly we'll easily spend billions of dollars trying to add a few lanes to motorways in Auckland and Wellington which don't reduce congestion and don't make it easier for people to get around," Genter said.
"The lion's share of the transport budget under the last National Government went on state highways around big cities which was silly because it reduced the amount of money available for the regions where highways really are needed.
"If you drive a car in rural regions, you're going to be better off if Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch are investing in public transport and not highways."