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National planning for private charge road tolls

National planning to let private companies charge road tolls

Jim Anderton MP Fri Sep 3 1999

Jim Anderton
MP The Alliance says the Government is planning to let private companies take over new roads, and New Zealanders will have to pay tolls to overseas owned companies in order to drive on them.

Alliance leader Jim Anderton says the Government's intentions are signalled in a speech to the Auckland Chamber of Commerce this morning by Treasurer Bill English. The Treasurer outlined the Government's intention to change the method of funding roads 'from a cash system to an investment system. That means we can look at long-term financing, including borrowing.' Mr English added that the 'toolkit' for the proposal was the Government's draft roading legislation.

Jim Anderton said Mr English was speaking in code.

'When Mr English says he intends to look at borrowing to build roads, he either means that the Government is going to run fiscal deficits to pay for them, or else he means a form of closet privatisation.

'When the statement is combined with the structure of the draft roading legislation, the hidden intention is clear.

'The Government will let overseas-owned companies build roads and put tolls on them, through which the public has to pay to use the roads for three decades. The proposal amounts to a kind of leasing arrangement, where we pay through the nose for basic infrastructure.

'If the Government puts its effort into privatising roads, then there will be little room left for the urgent improvement and maintenance of publicly-owned roads.

This will be a particular problem for roads in rural and provincial New Zealand which are already in a state of disrepair in many places,' Jim Anderton said.

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