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AA Accuses Finance Minister Of Mismanagement

AA Accuses Finance Minister Of Mismanagement

The Automobile Association has sharply criticised the Minister of Finance for refusing to take road trauma seriously enough to properly fund the Minister of Transport’s innovative new safety engineering programme announced today.

The Association is demanding Finance Minister Michael Cullen account for his role in condemning hundreds of New Zealand motorists to death and permanent injury every year while siphoning $600 million a year from petrol tax to pad his already bloated surplus.

“The Minister of Transport has produced a refreshing and innovative road safety initiative. Unfortunately the scope of this vision has been drastically curtailed by trying to implement it within the constraints of existing funding which is demonstrably inadequate.”

The draft Road Safety Strategy 2010 estimated that $200 million a year would be needed to engineer roads to achieve the realistic goal of reducing the road toll to 300 by 2010.

“Our current Road Safety approach is to literally fund ambulances at the bottom of the cliff instead of guard rails at the top. 3 cents of petrol tax we already pay plus 3 cents of new petrol tax (and equivalent road user charges) would fund a nationwide road safety programme to save 150 lives, 1,500 hospitalisations and remove a billion dollar burden in social costs of road accidents each year. Audited results on road safety works such as the Transport Minister is proposing show that every dollar spent can save up to $30 in social costs. No matter which way you look at it the economics of it stack up, so why won’t the Finance Minister take it seriously” AA Motoring Policy Manager Jayne Gale says.

Currently motorists pay 53 cents in tax for every litre of petrol they buy with only 13 cents going on roading. The AA only wants the Government to divert 3 cents less of its tax revenue into the Crown Account in return for a matching 3 cents of extra tax revenue so long as all 6 cents are spent on Road Safety engineering. The 6 cent total would raise about $180 million a year.

“Road users are paying the cost of inadequate roading in death and injury now. The first duty of Government is to protect its citizens from unnecessary harm. One has to ask if when the Government has the money, the responsibility and a cost effective strategy to prevent death and injure is failure to act not a form of negligence? It would be in the private sector,” Ms Gale asked.

Ms Gale suggested that the Finance Minister had shown a disproportionate interest in rail corridors, airlines and railway stations, while consistently dismissing out of hand all calls for road safety funding.

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