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National’s roading policy welcomed

Hon John Banks QSO Mayor of Auckland City

21 May 2004

National’s roading policy welcomed

“I think Auckland drivers stuck in gridlock traffic will view the National Party’s new roading policy as a breath of fresh air,” Auckland City Mayor Hon John Banks said today.

Mr Banks gave the ‘Roading Now’ policy, announced by Dr Brash today at an Auckland Chamber of Commerce breakfast, 8.5 out of 10.

“It is a radical shift from what we have seen from previous governments over the years but at the same time it looks to be sound, sensible and workable.

“Reforming the Resource Management Act is critical and I am pleased there is also a commitment to overhaul the Land Transport Management Act. We need a sense of urgency, commitment and completion, and Dr Brash’s policy looks set to provide just that.”

The Mayor was pleased to hear that Dr Brash also has a 10-year commitment to complete Auckland’s motorway network and is committed to finding the $7 billion shortfall.

“The National Leader said less funding should be derived from the ratepayers, excise taxes, and road-user charges and more should come from tolls across the network – both on new and existing roads. This is a fairer system of funding ensuring those that use key roads most fund the roads.

“The only disappointment was that there was not a firm commitment to divert all the revenue gained through road excises into the nation’s road build.”

Mr Banks said over the past five years New Zealand motorists have paid over $5 billion in road excises with only half that amount being invested back in transport infrastructure.

“I believe all excise revenue collected in the form of fuel taxes and road user charges should go directly into transport infrastructure and not be siphoned off to the Crown consolidated fund.

“Having said that, the National Party remains open to the idea of directing all the excise into roads, knowing that to deliver on its ambitious 10 year-commitment, every dollar from road-user charges and fuel taxes will need to be found and spent.

“Governance around transport in Auckland is complex and convoluted. National’s idea of ‘Transport Auckland’ has considerable merit.”

Mr Banks agreed with the sentiment that overly investing in rail is not going to return the dividends, given current and projected patronage is so poor. He supports the belief that buses are more efficient and investment in roads is money better spent.

“It’s disappointing the likes of the Wellington-based Transit New Zealand board aren’t so focussed. If Transit spent more time on delivering more roads and less time worrying about a V8 street race then we’d all be much better off - literally.”

“Let’s not forget that in the last financial year, Transfund reported a $250 million surplus. At the same time there are major Auckland transport projects that are ready to go now and the public expects us to just get on with it.”

A March Transit New Zealand briefing paper to the new Minister, Hon Pete Hodgson, pointed to: SH18, Hobsonville; SH1, ALPURT; SH1, North Shore Busway: SH1, Esmonde Road Interchange; SH1, Waiouru Connection; SH20, Manukau Extension; and SH20, Mt Roskill Extension.

“The hold-up is because the Green Party has insisted all these projects be reviewed. We’ve got to do a lot better than ‘Dreadlocks equals gridlock’ and the National Party’s policy looks set to do much much better,” said Mr Banks.

ENDS


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