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Government Should Come Clean

RAM media release 22.12.04

Government Should Come Clean on Secret Plans to Introduce Tolls

"The recent Environment Court's decision to grant Transit a six month extension to sort out the Orewa-Puhoi motorway was a premature decision" says Elaine West, Public Roads Spokesperson for RAM - Residents Action Movement.

"Essentially, the Environment Court and associated Commissioners by-passed a golden opportunity to recommend that Transit go to the source of the problem and seek a full and immediate explanation about the intentions of the Working Party set up by Transport Ministry officials and Treasury."

Ms West believes that New Zealanders are unwittingly entering a road pricing regime that Transport Ministry officials and Treasury have been shaping over time ­ without full public knowledge, public debate or public input.

She says that tolls and congestions fees are new Direct Road User Charges that Government will use to radically restructure the way New Zealanders have traditionally paid for public roads.

"And the Orewa to Puhoi motorway is tagged as the nation's 'toll road flag-bearer'."

She says "Government and Treasury officials are well aware that tactics such as delaying road construction along with increasing costs will wear down the public majority who oppose tolls."

"It is clear that most of the affected community do not want tolled roads as indicated in submissions and surveys. However, the public are being driven to frustration so that they will ultimately accept tolls as a means to an end."

"It comes as no surprise that the Orewa-Puhoi motorway costs have risen 20% on last August's figures (c.$300m-$385m) and quadrupled over eight years."

"And it also comes as no surprise that Government continues to unfairly target new road taxes from the same road users who already fund public roads through Road User Charges, petrol taxes, vehicle-related charges and income tax."

Ms West says: "The Government should come clean with its secret plans to introduce tolls and congestion fees on our public roads and the Environment Court should force the issue."

EDNS

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