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Budget Fails to Deliver Safer Roads, says AA

Budget Fails to Deliver Safer Roads, says AA

“Motorists will be very disappointed with yesterday’s budget announcement by the Government, because it fails to address the gross under funding of roading development and road safety in New Zealand” George Fairbairn, AA Director of Public Affairs said today.

Despite retaining a budget surplus of $4.1 billion and recently admitting that there is a significant shortfall in road funding, the budget announcement means that road funding will take a further down turn. Road maintenance and construction for this next year is down $11 million from last years funding levels ($9 million less for local roads and $2 million less for state highways).

The concern is that with less allocation of road user taxes the budget fails to fund the road engineering solutions required to implement the Government’s long awaited Road Safety Strategy 2010, which seeks to lower road deaths to 300 per year from the present 403.

“With continuing under funding of the roading network, everyone is now at increasingly more risk. The most effective way of reducing the road toll and the high level of fatalities and serious injuries, is to build better roads that incorporate permanent and proven safety features like median barriers, divided carriageways and passing lanes. The Government has already stated that the limit has almost been reached with what can be achieved with enforcement of the traffic regulations and that the solution to lowering the road toll now lies in these engineering solutions, yet it appears reluctant to fund them” Mr Fairbairn stated.

The Association points out that motorists currently pay 39.4 cents excise tax on every litre of petrol they purchase, with 18.7 cents of that tax being diverted directly into the General Crown Account, and never reaching road development or road safety initiatives.

“The tax grab from the motorist continues, but they are unlikely to see any real progress this year because of the diminished level of funding in the Budget. Road users will be forced to continue to drive on roads with inferior safety features putting all users no matter their means of travel at risk. There is no justification for the roading budget to be less than what was allocated last year” Mr Fairbairn said.

The Association noted that the Government has recently introduced a Land Transport Management Bill to address road funding issues. However, this legislation fails to answer the problem, despite having the best intentions.

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