An Opportunity To Address Looming Roading Crisis
27 May 2004
BUDGET AN OPPORTUNITY TO ADDRESS LOOMING ROADING CRISIS
The New Zealand Automobile Association has indicated it will be disappointed if today's Budget does not include funding to fast-track a number of urgently-needed major road infrastructure projects.
AA General Manager, Transport Policy, Stephen Selwood, said the Government had built up a substantial surplus (over $7.4 billion) and should commit to invest at least some of that surplus in re-building the nation's road network.
Mr. Selwood said motorists had contributed to the surplus through petrol taxes. "Road users have paid over $5 billion in fuel tax since the government was elected in 1999 with only half that amount being invested back in transport infrastructure. The other $2.5 billion has contributed to the $7.4 billion surplus the government has accumulated," he said.
"The problem facing us is that New Zealand's transport infrastructure is steadily being overwhelmed by ever-increasing demand."
"Many regional and local roads are substandard in both safety and efficiency and Auckland is facing strangulation with traffic volumes expected to double over the next 16 years. That it will take until 2015 to four lane SH1 to Hamilton and over 20 years to complete Auckland's core road network on current plans is an indictment of the shortage on money for transport infrastructure. Unless there is a commitment to a massive investment in the road network today, we will face a major crisis with serious implications for the entire economy tomorrow.
"The Government has committed to addressing some of these problems but only over a 25-year time frame and in many instances that will be a case of too little, far too late. The AA has been urging both Labour and National to fast-track many of the urgently needed projects and we were pleased by a recent National commitment to do this within a decade," he said.
"It is now up to the Government to come to the party with a similar commitment. The Budget today is an excellent opportunity for the Government to signal that it understands the extent of the looming transport crisis and will be addressing it as a matter of urgency."
The New Zealand Automobile Association is an incorporated society with over one million members. It represents the interests of road users who collectively pay $2 billion in taxes each year through fuels excise, road user charges and GST.