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Nat'l doesn't know where it's coming from on roads

King: National doesn't know where it's coming from on road tolls

Transport Minister Annette King says the National Party's plan to charge motorists up to $50 a week to use toll roads is causing huge divisions in National's own ranks.

"You can expect motorists to be upset at the prospect of paying an extra $50 a week to get to and from work, but National's transport spokesperson Maurice Williamson is splitting his own caucus as well with his suggestion on the Agenda programme yesterday," she said.

"This morning National deputy leader Bill English was forced to backtrack on what Mr Williamson said, saying on the Nine to Noon programme that Mr Williamson 'got a bit exuberant'.

"The trouble is that Mr Williamson was actually very definite --- he said, when asked for an example of tolling, he didn't know anyone who wouldn't be prepared to pay $3 to $5 a trip.

"The reality is that $5 a trip, or $50 a week, adds up to $2000 over 40 weeks. And most people work more than 40 weeks a year. To make the figures even more graphic, $2000 a year would add the equivalent of an extra $1.60 a litre to the cost of petrol for a motorist who uses 1250 litres a year.

"That's horrendous, and gives an insight into the sort of mad world National would like us to become part of. The Government is not against charging tolls in certain circumstances --- but tolls have to be price-sensitive if they are to work, and there always has to be a free alternative."

Ms King said she also noted that Mr Williamson suggested tolling a new Kopu Bridge. "You simply cannot do that under existing legislation, because toll legislation in New Zealand requires there to be a suitable free alternative to any toll road.

"Well, there's no suitable free alternative to Kopu Bridge. The fact is, the new Kopu Bridge will be built anyway. Work's starting on the new bridge in 2010-11, fully funded by the Government, without the need for Mr Williamson's tolls. And for that, motorists can breathe a sigh of relief."

Ms King says one final point needs to be made about Mr Williamson's comments on Agenda. "We now know what they have kept secret until now. Their roads of national significance are roads that they can toll. If roads cannot be tolled, then they are not important or significant, as far as National is concerned."


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