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Scoop Opinion: Carparking Tax Mooted

Transport Minister, Mark Gosche, is calling for more government funding for public transport and says he's determined to make it a priority. But why isn't government following the New South Wales example. John Howard writes.

Mark Gosche is launching a push to ease traffic congestion particularly in Auckland which some say, on present growth, is an unsustainable city.

Mr Gosche says the government has budgeted for both improving public transport services and roading. He says he will be turning his attention to Wellington and Christchurch next.

On Friday, Auckland City Council hosted the Labour 'Auckland Caucus' which included Mr Gosche and the Minister assisting the Prime Minister on Auckland Issues, Judith Tizard.

Top of the agenda was public transport with councillors also providing briefings on water, wastewater and social infrastructure including affordable housing and participation in the knowledge economy.

Auckland Deputy Mayor, Bruce Hucker said, " Government's commitment to Auckland has never been stronger, so we're taking this opportunity to develop close partnership across a range of issues."

Mr Hucker said, "No one authority can do it alone when it comes to the infrastructure we need. The key lies in Auckland City, the local authorities of the region, and central Government working together."

But why should the general taxpayer fund Auckland for its public transport problems particularly when the Auckland region is said to be the country's fastest-growing region and presumably, with good management, would have the funds, or the ability to obtain them and repay them, to invest in transport and infrastructure.

There are other areas of New Zealand who have no public transport between towns and hospitals at all.

Travelling to hospital 38 kilometres away on an urgent matter and having to negotiate two single-lane road rail bridges along the way, is something most people in the city's would be unlikely to comprehend.

There is a better way to fund public transport and ease traffic congestion and pollution and NSW has latched on to it.

Each owner of a vehicle who has a permanent private carpark in Sydney pays A$800 tax each year for the privilege. That's over and above the carparking fees. The money is designated to fund public transport and extensions to it.

In the outer city's surrounding Sydney the amount is A$400 per annum.

The rationale the NSW Government used was that if you want the privilege of driving to work, parking your vehicle in your own permanent carpark, and therefore contributing to traffic congestion and pollution, as well as using up precious fuel resources, then you should pay for that privilege.

The records of the carparking buildings are scrupulously checked against the cars in the permanent carparks and they are enforced. It appears there's not much chance of beating the system.

No tax is paid by the casual visitor or shopper who uses street or public car-parking on a daily basis so it doesn't affect business.

And who can argue with that?

In this instance, Mr Gosche is wrong to want general taxpayer money to fund a traffic congestion and pollution problem specific to the growing city's. It is solvable by other means and mechanisms.


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