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Government's Secret Strategy Threatens Motorists

Government's Secret Strategy Threatens Motorists

Tuesday 24 Sep 2002 Deborah Coddington Press Releases -- Transport

Motorists could be paying twice as much for petrol under the Labour Government's secret Land Transport Strategy, ACT's transport spokesman Deborah Coddington said today.

"I challenge the Government to publicly release this appalling document, which I was reliably informed was written by someone in the Greens' office, which has so far only been given to a selected few interest groups," Miss Coddington said.

"The Road Transport Forum and the Automobile Association have estimated that the cost impacts of the strategy could increase petrol tax by between 33 cents and $1 a litre - effectively doubling the cost of petrol.

"In a Parliamentary question last week to the Transport Minister I asked why the document was selectively released and I did not get a satisfactory answer. However, in reply to other questions, Paul Swain said a 'wide number of interest groups were consulted' and that the work had already been 'pulled together'.

"The Minister also said the strategy was 'a priority for this government and will be progressed in this calendar year'.

"If this is the basis for the government's Land Transport Bill, all New Zealanders should be aware of what the central planners have in store for us. The strategy is part of an anti-motorist, anti-road transport Green agenda.

"Road user charges will be spent on walkers and cyclists. There is no guarantee that tolls from privately-built roads will not go into the consolidated fund. Road users will be forced to take 'responsibility for all the costs' associated with transport, including such things as noise, emissions (roadside emissions tests will be conducted), and water quality.

"Since when have people going about their lawful business been required by law to be liable for the costs their legal activities impose on others?" Miss Coddington asked.

"Those exercising their lawful freedom of speech are not financially responsible for those who take exception to what is said. If that were so, we'd see considerable fines imposed on Labour politicians for starters.

"The Land Transport Strategy is a highly political document and departs markedly from the government's transport advisers, who have traditionally followed a more market-based and commercial approach to the development of the transport sector.

"This document is exactly what representatives from road-user groups have called it - 'a social agenda aimed at a radical re-engineering of the way people go about their daily lives'.

"Some of the report is actually quite hilarious. For instance, short trips by car when one could have walked or cycled instead, come under fire. Will it be illegal to drive to the corner dairy?

"The driving test is criticised for being 'an intimidating experience'. Will it now focus on self-esteem, like just about every other government-run examination, rather than ensuring drivers are safe behind the wheels?

"And under a special section on 'health' we are told that 'cars and trucks leave particles of worn tyre material and unburned fuel from exhaust pipes on the road surface' which goes into stormwaters and is a risk to 'human health'.

"ACT calls on the government to release this document, which has huge implications for well-functioning economy, to the public before the Land Transport Bill is thrust upon us," Miss Coddington said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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