Greens investigate legal challenge on Penlink
7 October 2008
Greens investigate legal challenge on Penlink funding
The Green Party is considering a legal challenge to plans to fund the new Rodney Penlink road out of a regional fuel tax.
"In our opinion the Minister of Transport is in flagrant breach of her own legislation in requiring Aucklanders to pay for the new Penlink road - a road that is not consistent with the Regional Land Transport Strategy," Greens Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.
The new Land Transport Management Act provides for the Auckland Regional Council to levy a regional fuel tax to pay for projects that are widely supported and consulted on in Auckland, and consistent with their democratically developed Regional Land Transport Strategy. The Council intends to use its levy to pay for the electrification of the Auckland rail system that has been a high priority for the region for some time.
"In addition to that, the Act provides that Ministers can add projects they believe are in Auckland's interests, but only if the Ministers are 'satisfied that they are consistent with the Regional Land Transport Strategy'. This provision was added after negotiation with the Green Party and was intended to prevent future Ministers from approving funding for pet projects that were not supported by the people who have to pay for them.
"The proposed Penlink road in Rodney does not meet this requirement. This decision is pork barrelling of the worst kind. If Aucklanders are to pay this fuel levy, Aucklanders should decide, through proper democratic proceses, what they want it used for. They have done this with the rail electrification, but not with Penlink.
"The ARC has confirmed to me this morning that they did not know about this decision until they read it in the paper.
"The Green Party stated clearly in the House when this bill was proceeding that we were glad the loophole that allowed for some future minister to use it for totally pork-barrel reasons was closed. It is disappointing to see that the current minister is already tyring to circumvent the legislation.
"The Minister's decision is clearly open to judicial review as it is not consistent with the law. I have asked staff to begin investigating taking such a review."