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$9.4b surplus proves no need for congestion charge

Media release

Newmarket Business Association

5 May 2006

$9.4b surplus proves no need for congestion charge

"News out from Treasury today that the Government is boasting a staggering $9.4 billion operating surplus for the nine months to 31 March, shows ring-fencing central Auckland and charging drivers to enter is a totally unnecessary revenue gathering exercise," said Cameron Brewer, head of the Newmarket Business Association.

"A mind blowing operating surplus like this completely discredits the Ministry of Transport's latest recommendation that more money needs to be collected from drivers to help pay for a road funding deficit. The Government has plenty of money. It doesn't need to hold out its begging bowl for more, especially at the expense of central Auckland retailers like ours.

"Transit is having to slow down its road building programme because it can't find $685 million to complete its 10-year national plan. Further, the Government is now considering a road pricing study which is all about making more money out of the already overly taxed Auckland driver.

"This $9.4 billion operating surplus, $3.5 higher than forecast, kills any argument from the Government that it can't afford to fix Auckland's transport woes. There is no credibility in ring-fencing the likes of Newmarket and the CBD and charging drivers to enter when the Treasury coffers are so fill.

"Further, the Government already collects more than enough directly off Auckland drivers through the likes of the extra five cents on fuel excise and extra GST thanks to ongoing fuel price hikes. Its challenge now is to start spending all the money it collects from transport actually on transport.

"The Government needs to drop its obsession with a London-style congestion charge for the central Auckland business areas, and start directing the hefty surplus it is already making off Auckland taxpayers and drivers towards fixing Auckland's transport shortcomings.

"Today's news proves that the Government has more than enough money to invest in the country's largest city without having to disadvantage Auckland businesses and drivers by introducing a punitive and unfair tolling system for the central city," said Cameron Brewer


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