Election 2023: AA praises National's pothole problem fix, but Labour says Nats caused it in first place

The National Party's pothole repair fund has been praised by AA road safety, but Labour says the Nats are the party that caused it. 

On Sunday, the National Party announced it will allocate half a billion dollars to a "pothole repair fund", which it said will address the "shocking state" of Aotearoa's transport network.

If elected to Government in October, National will allocate $500 million over three years to regional authorities and Waka Kotahi to repair potholes and other damage to local roads and state highways. 

But Labour transport spokesperson David Parker said it was the National Party when it was in Government that froze the road maintenance budget. 

"There weren't enough road re-surfacings done and, when you don't resurface roads, it gets dishes from the heavy vehicles, that holds water, the water gets into the road, the road cracks up and you get massive lots of potholes."

Parker told AM the Labour Government is now dealing "with that catch-up". He said road resurfacing is now being undertaken at a greater rate than is needed. 

"Under the last Government, under their funding freeze, they were doing the renewals at half the rate that was required."

National's half-a-billion-dollar repair fund will be funded by a re-prioritisation of the National Land Transport Programme, but Parker said the money will come from initiatives that "save lives".

"They just need to be transparent about what they're proposing."

On Sunday, National's transport spokesperson Simeon Brown said the re-prioritisation of funding will include "a reduction in expenditure on activities which unnecessarily slow traffic down such as blanket speed limit reductions and excessive speed bump installations, or the failed Road to Zero advertising campaign, towards investment in safer roads which are properly maintained".

AA road safety spokesperson Dylan Thomsen said National's announcement is a "really good signal" after the association has spent years of campaigning for more spending on New Zealand's roads. 

"We have not been investing enough as a country into road maintenance and our road network has been deteriorating because of it."

While the Government has increased the budget for state highway maintenance by 65 percent, Thomsen said it is "still not enough".

"We thought that $900 million more was needed to catch up on work. This Government invested $500 million more so that helped."

Thomsen is hoping as October's election ticks closer, there will be a big focus on Aotearoa's road network from other political parties. 

Watch the full video for more.