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Copeland: Get moving on Auckland roads

Media Statement For immediate release Wednesday, 23 July, 2003

Copeland: Get moving on Auckland roads

United Future finance spokesman Gordon Copeland has ratcheted up calls for the Government to do whatever is required to fix Auckland's traffic problems.

"United Future believes that the nation must urgently resolve Auckland's congestion. The prize will be a gain estimated to be in the region of between $1 billion and $1.5 billion each year," Mr Copeland said in the Budget estimates debate in Parliament yesterday.

Current projections of up to and beyond 10 years to fix the problem are simply not good enough, he said.

"For that reason, United Future favours a speedy commitment by Government to the funding of Auckland's land transport's needs through borrowings. This could take the form of public/private partnerships or - which may turn out to be a cheaper route - borrowings by the Crown itself," he said.

The Government was well able to do this from the "strength of the nation's balance sheet and its triple A credit rating", Mr Copeland said.

"Both bridging and, say, 30-year borrowing mechanisms should be explored and employed. Remember that we save between $1 billion and $ 1.5 billion each year that we are able to accelerate the completion of the network and free up Auckland's roads.

"I appreciate that funding repayment of these loans needs to be thought through very carefully. Where funds borrowed can be repaid at the other end of the bridge then interest will be the only cash flow requirement.

"Where longer term loans are involved, then a source for both interest and principal repayments will need to be found. This could take the form of tolls, and increase in petrol excise duty, congestion charges or similar, but we must, for the sake of our economy, be creative, get on with the job and realise the economic benefits as soon as is practicably possible," Mr Copeland said.


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