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Regional Fuel Tax must not Slow Progress


18 May 2007

Regional Fuel Tax must not Slow Progress on Transmission Gully

The capacity for regions to levy a regional fuel tax must not be allowed to slow progress on projects such as Transmission Gully, according to the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber Chief Executive told Michael Cullen at a post-briefing lunch today that he was pleased that the Government was thinking creatively about ways to raise the capital needed to accelerate construction of key infrastructure, but he had concerns that such a tax could be used to delay decisions of the new motorway.

“Transmission Gully is an issue of national strategic importance and it should be funded as a priority from the national roading budget, not be dependent on regional funding. When the current state highway closes, for even a few hours, the South Island and Wellington start to run out of essential supplies.

“When the current road is hugely vulnerable to climate change and earthquakes the last thing you want is the main transport artery in the country traveling along a metre or so above sea level beneath an over-steepened slope that is highly vulnerable to slippage from heavy rain.

“Secondly, if regions are to have the right to chose and pay for infrastructure, surely the regions should be allowed to chose how to spend the money? Government is telling us in the Budget that only 5c a litre can be raised for roading (if you raise the full 10c half has to be spent on public transport) – this might be fine in Auckland but in Wellington the real deficit is roading – we already have the highest public transport modal share of any city in Australasia.

“Finally, opponents of the road must not use the prospect of a fuel tax to revisit the proposal as Mayor Kerry Prendergast did this morning in the Dominion Post.

“Kerry takes every opportunity to try to delay Transmission Gully so her pet Petone-to-Grenada road can be jumped up the regional priority list. We have no issue with the region funding the proposed Petone-to Grenada road but let us keep thinking creatively about the funding of all key infrastructure projects.

While the Chamber is supportive of decisions to allow regions to gather regional taxes to help fund transport infrastructure investment, we consider tolling, private sector investment and cordon or electronic pricing to be better potential solutions than regional petrol taxes, Mr Finny concluded.

ENDS

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