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National leader Todd Muller speaks to media at the Hotel Ashburton today, before speaking to a gathering of around 300 people.

Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon has welcomed National Party leader Todd Muller’s commitment that the next National Government will build a four-lane expressway from Ashburton to Rolleston, including a second bridge over the Ashburton River.
Mr Muller made the announcement in Ashburton before speaking to around 300 people at the Hotel Ashburton. He said the 60km expressway would be like opening up an artery for rural Canterbury and help boost the district’s economy as goods and people moved more easily.
It was a high point in a day that started in South Canterbury with news that Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker had resigned after admitting he had leaked private medical information about Covid patients to the media.
Mr Muller said the MP had done the right thing resigning. Mr Walker’s error of judgment had cost him his career.
‘‘It is the right decision and now we seek to move on.’’
In Ashburton, Mr Muller’s expressway announcement was greeted with loud applause.
He talked about National’s plan for the future and said policies would soon be announced. Agriculture was keeping the country afloat for now, but New Zealand needed proven debt managers going forward.
Mr Falloon said the highway as it is now was one of the most dangerous stretches of highway in New Zealand for fatalities and serious injuries.
“Since becoming a candidate in early 2017 and being elected to Parliament in September that year, I’ve pushed hard for a safer road than the one we have now.
“Traffic volumes have grown, and every week I have people contacting my office in Ashburton who feel unsafe about travelling through to Christchurch.”
The planned four-lane highway would be under construction by the end of 2023 if National became the Government in September.
The roading plan includes second bridges over the Ashburton, Rakaia and Selwyn Rivers.
“Money has been put toward a business case for a second bridge over the Ashburton River – the fourth such study in recent history. There’s no indication the Government is interested in progressing the expressway so I’m thrilled that National has committed to building it.
‘‘This is a much-needed piece of infrastructure that will reduce congestion at peak times.
“With its strong primary sector base, Mid Canterbury is well-placed to help lead a post-Covid economic recovery. What’s important is that the handbrake to future growth is removed.’’