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Has the Govt left Transfund in the lurch?

Belinda Vernon National Transport Spokesperson

27 June 2002

Has the Govt left Transfund in the lurch?

The Government's failure to introduce and pass its proposed land transport legislation raises questions about how valid Transfund's National Land Transport Programme announced tonight is, says National's Transport Spokesperson Belinda Vernon.

"When the Government increased petrol tax in February it said legislative changes were needed to put the rest of the package into effect. It promised 'major changes' to the funding framework for land transport because the existing framework was not flexible enough. But no legislation has been introduced, let alone passed.

"The question is does Transfund have the legal authority to make the allocations it has, or is it acting ultra virus?

"The principal objective of the Transfund Board is to 'allocate resources to achieve a safe and efficient roading system.' I have to question whether the priorities set by the Government, such as 'supporting economic development' fit that objective.

"The Government has also failed to deliver its promise to enable public private partnerships and tolling. They are essential tools to get New Zealand's roading network up to scratch.

"In answer to a written question the Government has said 'Transfund New Zealand will develop new mechanisms in order to take into account the government's funding priorities and the changes to its statutory role recently signalled.' (Emphasis added). But its statutory role has not yet been changed.

"The Government has sought to politicise the decision-making around roading. It has tried to manipulate the Board without passing the legislation necessary to legitimise its actions.

"The Government also promised that all the increase in petrol tax and RUC would go to the National Roads Fund, but there is no evidence that it has.

"In the coming year the National Land Transport Programme is spending an extra $150M ($168.75M incl GST). Yet the increase in petrol tax and RUC was supposed to generate $202M ($227M incl GST) over 16 months or $156M ($175M incl GST) over a year.

"The Government needs to explain where the money has gone," says Ms Vernon.


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