[Sitting date: 24 July 2012. Volume:682;Page:3811. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
PHIL TWYFORD (Labour—Te
Atatū) to the
Minister of Transport: Does he stand by his statement that it is “ridiculous” for Auckland Council to try and go ahead with plans to charge motorists to use the city’s roads?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Minister of Transport)
: Yes, because the Crown owns the State highway network, which carries 35 percent of the vehicle kilometres travelled in Auckland. I note also that last week the member said it would be an unfair imposition on ordinary working Aucklanders.
Phil Twyford: Why did he rule out even considering the Auckland Council’s ideas about making up his Government’s shortfall in transport funding, when the Government’s own response to the plan in February this year said: “The Auckland Council faces similar fiscal constraints to the Government, and so it would also make sense for the Council to consider new … approaches to funding … the infrastructure … required to deliver Auckland spatial plan objectives.”?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: The member should not assume that his own knowledge of these things puts the limits around my thinking about the way in which the Auckland Council might look to fund these things. What I would note, though, is
that the member himself has previously said that such charges would be an imposition on ordinary working New Zealanders. He also just a week or so ago suggested that the increases for motorists, when it came to road-user charges, were inappropriate. I think what the Labour Party members need to do is say what they will do rather than what they will not do.
Phil Twyford: Why did he rule out even listening to the Auckland Council’s alternative funding options for funding infrastructure like the additional harbour crossing over the
Waitematā, when the Government’s own transport agency says that it will be one of this country’s most expensive infrastructure projects, and that this means that a range of options beyond the National Land Transport Fund should be considered?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I think that far from ruling anything out, I have simply made it clear that the idea that the Auckland Council would impose charges without consideration of Government was not appropriate—ridiculous, in fact. I want to report to the House that we had a very good meeting last week with the Auckland Council. A number of Ministers attended, transport was, obviously, on the agenda, and we do have agreement to continue dialogue on how Auckland’s long-term problems might be solved with some better roading projects.
Phil Twyford: Is it not arrogant to be ruling options in or out, when it was his Government that abolished the regional fuel tax, which would have funded much of Auckland’s transport plans, when it forced the Auckland Council to borrow half a billion dollars to pay for the electric trains, when it went cap in hand to the Auckland Council asking for bridging finance, because the Government’s own funding for Auckland’s roads had run out, all the while refusing to support the popular and essential city rail link?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I take big issue with the suggestion that the city rail link is useful or popular.