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PPP Road Tolls, No Way

Media Release, 4/3/08

A Waterview Tunnel & Rail with That?
PPP Road Tolls, No Way

Rose Hollins, spokesperson, ph: 09 828-0238, email: rose28@woosh.co.nz
Meredydd Barrar, spokesperson, ph: 09 836-6389, email: capwaitakere@xtra.co.nz

A Waterview Tunnel & Rail with That? - PPP Road Tolls, No Way

Citizens Against Privatisation will picket Transit NZ's Open/Information Days on the Waterview Connection, today, Tues March 4, at Owairaka Primary School, Richardson Rd, 3.30pm - 8.30pm and again on Sat March 15, 10am - 3pm; and tomorrow, Wed March 5, at Waterview Methodist Church, Fir St, 3.30pm - 8.30pm, and on Sat March 29, 10am - 3pm.

Local residents who've campaigned for years to save Mt Albert/Avondale/Waterview/Oakley Creek from the SH20 Western Ring Route dividing and destroying our suburbs and parks, might feel Transit's full tunnel decision is a victory, if the motorway can't be prevented.

But no-one should doubt that any community welcome of a tunnel will be abused, as supposed support for a public private partnership, or PPP, and for the road tolls without which no investor would risk one.

In the face of the Auckland region's appalling 7% peak-hours access to public - privatised - transport with best prospects of improvement to only 14% by 2016, compared with Wellington's current 17% and London's 85% access pre-congestion charges, this "better and cheaper option" guesstimated to pay its 35-year owners at least $1.89 billion to $2.3 billion, plans no rail, no bus lane, no cycle or pedestrian access at all.

Why would it? Ex-NSW Auditor General, Tony Harris, describing PPPs as a disaster, says secret clauses in PPP road contracts there, not only prevent development of competing roads, but rule out future passenger transport to safeguard gigantic profits, like the 200% return on Sydney's M2 before it even opened: http://apxc88blogspot.com/2007/11/tony-harris.html

"The rules and circumstances favouring PPPs ... wired into New Zealand's financial system," have long since been identified, for instance by Sue Newberry/June Pallot, 2003, Fiscal (ir)responsibility: privileging PPPs in New Zealand: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/10.1108/09513570310482318
Murray Dobbin has shown this in Canada: http://www.straight.com/content.cfm?id=15102
As have Jean Shaoul and the PSIRU (Public Services International Research Unit) in the UK, Europe and worldwide: http://www.psiru.org

But there is no public private partnership in Transit's colourful 8-page booklet inviting local approval for their "going-underground" Waterview Connection, and only one vague mention of possible future road tolls.

Because while Transit 'consults' with the public, a steering group of state-appointed sharks - representatives of big business organisations shamelessly self-interested in road and transport privatisation - will work about eight hours a week with Councils and the state's own experts, shaping an offering to whet the appetites of international capital member companies for the best value PPP our money can buy them - the model to launch all-out corporatisation and privatisation of NZ infrastructure and services: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10491173

"The two processes will be quite separate," Ministers Cullen and King assure us in its terms of reference. "It is not anticipated that Transit's consultation will impact on the development of the business case." http://www.scoopco.nz/stories/PA0802/S00079.htm

Transit NZ, soon to join Land Transport NZ in a new Crown entity, has itself been refining a national Tolling Strategy Project (TSP), behind the scenes since 2004. This is an "electronic toll collection system that interfaces with an integrated national toll management system, for the collection and processing of toll transactions, collections, enforcement, and data management".

Whangaparaoa people might escape the first motorway PPP West Auckland is now threatened with, but their Rodney District Council has signed up to TSP tolls for Penlink and ALPURT B2 that will prosecute toll debtors with "the maximum possible fines for moving vehicle violations" and exclude them from the new roads: http://www.rodney.govt.nz/services/penlink/Penlink_Tolling_Strategy_Report.pdf

So-called road pricing study has also resumed, despite Aucklanders' overwhelming rejection, as with untold $mega-million tolling studies during more than a decade. If all users of streets corridors and roads, city or countrywide, whether on foot, cycle, pushchair, skateboard, mobility scooter, motorbike, or in cars, were subject to electronic or GPS tolls - as PPP steering group members promote - the potential for solving highway toll avoidance problems is clear: http://www.transport.govt.nz/ministry-of-transport-releases-auckland-road-pricing-submissions-analysis-1/

Mass resistance by ordinary people, though, continues to gain strength. Local fightback was the key to scrapping tolls on Auckland and Tauranga Harbour Bridges. In the UK, nearly two million people crashed a Downing St website signing a petition against Labour's planned nationwide vehicle tracking and road pricing policy: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/traveltax/ and a nine-year campaign finally stopped tolls on Scotland's Skye Bridge: http://axa.instinct.co.nz/wiki/index.php?searchtype=&title=Toll_bridge

Sydneysiders all-out boycott of Cross City Tunnel tolls bankrupted its PPP consortium in less than two years, including a $100 million loss by local Techscape owner Bilfinger Berger: http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2006/s1571546.htm

It's election year again, and we must beware the dramatic all-encompassing 'reforms' for which NZ politicians are renowned worldwide. Make no mistake - all political parties support these anti-social plans aimed at the already impoverished working class majority. Casting your vote will be no defence.


© Scoop Media

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