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Same old, same old from National on transport

Same old, same old from National on transport

Transport Minister Annette King says the National Party has produced nothing new so far in its transport policy for the future.

"All we hear from National's transport spokesperson Maurice Williamson is the same old, same old he was talking about in the 1990s, and never got round to implementing when he was Transport Minister," Ms King said. "The problem is the world has changed while he has been sleeping.

"The only solution Mr Williamson has for building major new roads is that they will all be tolled. That IS the only solution he has got, of course, because National voted against the full dedication of revenue from road users to be used for transport only, and National also voted against regional fuel taxes."

Ms King said Mr Williamson had not thought his tolling proposals through.

"I will give you two examples. He says he will fund Transmission Gully out of tolls. The toll for Transmission Gully --- without a regional fuel tax --- would be so high that no one would use it unless National simultaneously reduced the speed on the free alternative coast road to 30 or 40 km per hour. National would be prepared to disadvantage the thousands of people who live up the Kapiti coast, and would force them to pay a hefty toll if they wanted to get anywhere quickly.

"The second example is the new ALPURT B2 tolled road from Albany to Puhoi that will be open early next year. Even if you maximised the use of this road by tollpayers, tolling would still only support 50 percent of the infrastructure cost. Maurice Williamson misses out on the fact that you need to have a balance --- that you cannot set a toll so high that people won't use the road. Tolls are price-sensitive."

Ms King says the Labour-led Government strongly believes there is a place for public private partnerships (PPPs). "In fact, this Government has made far more progress than Mr Williamson did in all his years in the transport portfolio. What's more, he voted against the Government's legislation in 2003 that enabled PPPs.

"The other worrying aspect of National's transport policy is the lack of any real commitment to rail and public transport generally. Provincial New Zealand cannot trust National to look after our rail network. Mr Williamson last week told the Gisborne Herald that National would look closely at costs and benefits, particularly in the case of lines that had been shown to be unviable. These lines are in provincial New Zealand, of course.

"I am also surprised that Mr Williamson now says he supports the Government's Sea Change policy. That's the first I've heard of it. In fact, in November last year, when I announced the draft strategy, National's associate transport spokesperson David Bennett said Labour's sea freight solutions would be ideologically-based, rendering them unworkable.

"Now it seems that National thinks our ideas are good. The reality is that no one knows where they are actually coming from, and what story they tell is the correct one."

ends

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