Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Transport)
: I move,
That the Land Transport Management Amendment Bill be now read a second time. Most submissions were very supportive of the principles underpinning this bill and they offered many constructive suggestions to improve it. I would like to thank the members of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee for the work they have done in strengthening this bill. I support the changes that have been recommended.
This bill will further embed the Government’s push to ensure that we have a transport planning and funding system that reflects the sophistication and complexity of the 21st century. The bill will see the full hypothecation of fuel excise taxes for land transport purposes. This is a very significant point in the history of land transport funding in New Zealand and will involve about $600 million per annum, previously retained in the general Crown accounts, being now ring-fenced exclusively for land transport activities. The bill also clarifies the existing legislation in respect of funding of land transport activities from revenue received from motorists and heavy-vehicle users.
The bill has a requirement for a Government policy statement to guide the allocation of national land transport funds by the New Zealand Transport Agency on the basis of regional transport plans. As Minister of Transport, I will remain responsible for decisions around the allocation of the fund to New Zealand road safety initiatives, based on recommendations developed by the agency. The bill also provides for moneys from the National Land Transport Fund to be paid for activities that benefit users of pleasure
craft. This is in lieu of a refund of the petrol tax paid by recreational boaties. This provision received very widespread support from the marine sector.
The select committee has recommended allowing the funding to be used for more generic search and rescue activities. Under the bill, regional land transport committees will be replaced by regional transport committees. These committees will have enhanced functions, including the preparation of new 3-yearly regional land transport programmes and regional fuel tax schemes. The bill as introduced reflected the Government’s decision to move to a 3-yearly regional land transport programme and a 3-yearly national land transport programme. This move will increase certainty in the sector and will reduce consultation and “planning churn”, and was well received by submitters. There will be increased flexibility to combine planning documents and consultation processes.
To further acknowledge local government’s concerns, the committee recommends that the bill expressly requires the agency to take into account the regional priority attached to activities when making decisions on the National Land Transport Programme. Groups such as the Automobile Association, the Road Transport Forum, and local government made strong submissions about the need to be involved in decision-making processes around land transport. The bill as reported back acknowledges such views.
The Government’s commitment to rail’s role as a critical part of a sustainable transport system is evidenced by our very recent announcement that the Government will be purchasing Toll’s rail interests. I therefore strongly endorse the committee’s recommendation that an expressed reference be made to rail and coastal shipping in the purpose section of the Land Transport Management Act.
The bill will see Land Transport New Zealand and Transit New Zealand replaced by a new entity—the New Zealand Transport Agency. Transparency and accountability of this agency was a major issue for the select committee, and it has recommended improvements to the bill as a result. Given the role of the New Zealand Transport Agency as a funder and provider of land transport activities, decision making must be transparent and there must be suitable accountability provisions.
Finally, the bill will allow regions to use a regional fuel tax to fund priority projects that cannot reasonably be funded from any other source within the time frame desired by the region—for example, the electrification of the Auckland rail network. This is a vital project to achieve a sustainable future and to give users of public transport greater choice. It will be up to each region to decide whether to introduce a regional fuel tax. The bill provides that a region may raise a tax of up to 10c per litre for land transport projects, with expenditure on roading projects capped at 5c. Many local government submitters, although generally supportive of a regional fuel tax, sought to remove the 5c cap on roading projects. The committee has recommended that changes be made so that the funding of facilities—such as walking, cycling, and bus lanes; and high-occupancy vehicles—does not crowd out the demand for general traffic projects under the 5c roading cap.
In the Auckland region, because it already has a well-developed idea of what projects it would like to fund under a regional fuel tax scheme, the initial Auckland scheme will be developed by the Auckland Regional Council. The council will need to take account of the views of the Auckland Regional Land Transport Committee.
I would also like to take this opportunity to signal my intention to introduce a Supplementary Order Paper. Members will be aware of recent media attention given to the rise in fuel prices. The Government always expected that a regional fuel tax scheme would need to provide for phasing, in order to meet the affordability criteria that Ministers must apply when considering a regional fuel tax. Phasing will be a
requirement of a regional fuel tax in the bill. Once again, I would like to thank select committee members for the work they have done on this bill. It is a very significant piece of legislation.
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON (National—Pakuranga)
: I start by saying that although the National Party will be voting against the legislation, we think there are some quite good bits to it. We think this legislation is a bit like the curate’s egg in that it is good in some places and not so good in others. I want to cover the areas where we are in support of the bill, and it is a shame that it could not be split into parts so that we could vote on those parts separately. We will get to do that at the Committee stage, but we will not be able to do it for the whole legislation.
First of all, there is the issue of hypothecation. The vast bulk of the public out there have not a clue what that is. It sounds like some dreadful disease that only penicillin can cure. But, in its simplest form, hypothecation is the dedication of everything that is collected from road users going to a dedicated land transport fund so that it can be spent on land transport - type purposes.
For decades now the view of the general public was that we were just stealing their money. I was certainly on the raw end of some sharp, barbed tongues over that, and I am sure Labour Ministers in the 1980s would have got it as well. I think the public thought that Ministers were heading off to the Bahamas with a crate of Moët under their arms and spending up large. Of course, they were not; the money was going to the consolidated account or to the general accounts, and it was being used by the Government to fund education, health, and all sorts of other things. But that did not ever wash with the public. They all felt that if the money had been collected at the petrol pump, from the road-user charges, or from motor vehicle registrations, then it should be dedicated back to that purpose.
Treasury hates hypothecation. If there is one thing that stops Treasury staff from sleeping at night, it is when we raise the word “hypothecation”. They start asking whether we will have a frigate tax, a breast cancer tax, and so on—why should one thing get a hypothecation and not the others? But I think it is a good move. It is a move the National Party campaigned for with our billboards at the last election. We thought that the times when the Government accounts were heavily in surplus were the times it should happen—as opposed to the times in the 1990s when the entire accounts of the Government were in deficit and finance Ministers had no scope to release any of the money they were getting from that. I think it was a coming together of all the political parties, and the fact that organisations like the Automobile Association had campaigned so heavily for it.
So there is that, and there are a whole lot of things with regard to the aligning of the planning cycle, and getting more purpose into how the programmes are constructed, with some more certainty. There have been some bizarre examples of 1-year plans where the following year something that was due to start the next year was not even in the next 10-year plan. I think the Taupō eastern arterial route was a great example. In 2005 it was in the plan to start in 2006, and then when the 2006 plan came out it was not even in the next 10-year plan. As people all around the country used to say, how can we make any provision for it, how can we plan for it, and how can we make things work?
The Government is introducing a new thing called a “GPS”, which is not the global positioning system that people might have in their cars but a Government policy statement. I will be interested to watch what the first structure of that comes out like. In theory it is quite a good idea. It sets out what the Government’s plans for investment and funding priorities are for the coming 3 to 6 years and it gives some strategic guidance to the transport sector. I hear about these things—about strategies and general guidance documents and so on—and basically they can be all things to all people, from
motherhood and apple pie to something of real substance. If the Government policy statement is to be a funding and priority planning - type tool, then it will have some substance to it.
The introduction of the regional land transport programme to rationalise land transport planning documents and to reduce consultation is, I think, a good point about what this legislation should be doing, because the level of consultation across things like road building is absolutely crippling. The consultation has to occur at local level, it then has to occur at regional level, it has to occur at national level, and then quite often it has to go back for a second or third tranche.
I guess National’s biggest concern with this legislation is not so much some of the stuff that is in it—and I will get to the regional fuel tax and a couple of other bits that we are highly opposed to—but what is not in it. When Labour passed the Land Transport Management Act in 2003, the claims that the National Opposition made at that point were that if the legislation went through as it was, it was so restrictive and so prescriptive on private sector participation in the funding and building of roads that it would never happen.
Peter Brown: So it should be!
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: There we are—New Zealand First says: “So it should be!”. They do not think the private sector should be involved in funding the building of new roads. I can tell members that National does. I can tell members that every state Labor Government in Australia uses the private sector to fund roading. So does the Labour Government in the United Kingdom, and so do socialist Governments in Europe. In fact, Peter Brown would be hard-pressed to tell us of a country in which the private sector is not involved in funding road building. But he still brings his cloth-cap, socialist dogma to the idea of private sector funding, and he feels that New Zealand should somehow line itself up with Burkina Faso or Zimbabwe—no, actually Zimbabwe allows it. Interestingly enough, the biggest builder of private sector roads in the world at present is communist China. So Peter Brown is further left than the communists—that is all I can say.
This bill should have done something about the Land Transport Management Act. This is a Land Transport Management Amendment Bill, so it could have. It could have taken out some of the prescriptive dragnets that are in there, such as the 35-year concession period. It could have opened that up and made it a bid parameter. It could have allowed some things that the private sector has regularly said it would participate in if they were in the legislation. The private sector has said it would participate in building roads but not while the legislation is as blocked and prescriptive and as restrictive as it is.
Now I come to some of the stuff in the bill that we are very, very opposed to. The first of those is obviously the regional fuel tax. One of the things I found interesting happened at the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee last week when we asked Land Transport New Zealand how it was that it finished a financial year with $220 million unspent. It said it was because there are so many little pots of money. It said: “Money that is allocated for this purpose, to this region, for that, cannot now be moved over to another region or another purpose if the project does not come on stream on time.” That is quite clearly a nonsense. If the money is in the account and a project falls over because it does not get its consents or it does not get its ducks in a row, or get lined up by the local authority, or whatever, then surely the funding agency should have the ability to move that money to one of the other projects that is begging to get started.
What we will be doing with the regional fuel tax is creating yet another small packet of pots, so that one region can have it but a region next door may not. That was interesting in itself. We heard a lot of the big trucking operators say that if they are
going to be operating out of Auckland, which has a regional fuel tax—and the Waikato region does not—then they can set up a fuel base just across the regional border and transport their trucks down there with hardly anything on them, and fuel up accordingly.
Those grey, mucky lines in the sand mean that a regional fuel tax can cause major disturbances for a proper regime. More important, what is hilarious about this is that we are passing this legislation at a time when the Prime Minister says she knows that New Zealanders’ pockets are under strain. She knows they cannot afford it at present, so we will not allow the regional petrol tax to come in next year, at any rate. So why are we passing it? Why are we rushing legislation through to allow a regional fuel tax when the Prime Minister says she knows it cannot be afforded by New Zealanders and that she will not be allowing it to occur in the next year?
I say that there are plenty of other mechanisms to fund land transport. Some of our opponents are now saying: “Oh, if you don’t allow a regional fuel tax, it means you’re opposed to a whole lot of projects that could be built, such as Penlink.” We are not opposed to Penlink at all. We are very much in favour of Penlink, the big road project out to the Whangaparāoa Peninsula, being built. But a regional fuel tax is not the only mechanism to fund Penlink. It could be a whole range of other instruments that other countries use, such as public debt, private debt, infrastructure bonds, a whole range of public-private partnerships, and so on.
The last thing I want to say, because I think I have only about 10 seconds left, is that for a long time Land Transport New Zealand and Transit were separated. Everyone thought that was a good idea. Now, somehow, for some reason, the Government thinks bringing them back together is a good idea, even though it was totally and highly opposed to it at the time.
MOANA MACKEY (Labour)
: I am very happy to take a call on the second reading of the Land Transport Management Amendment Bill (No 2). That was a very interesting speech from the National member Maurice Williamson; I point out that this Government is very supportive of public-private partnerships, and say that of course they have their place. But, unlike the member who has just resumed his seat, we believe that the Government has an active role in providing infrastructure in the country, and that is why we have had an unprecedented road-building and infrastructure-building programme. It explains why, when Maurice Williamson was Minister of Transport, he did not build a single new road in this country. Every morning he would get out of bed, rush to the window, and hope that the market, like the tooth fairy, had somehow magically delivered him a new road overnight. He would throw open the windows, and be incredibly disappointed that the market had not delivered for him. Unlike that member, we understand the reality for a country like New Zealand, and the Government is an active partner in the road-building business in this country.
I am not a member of the select committee that considered this bill, but I am chair of the Local Government and Environment Committee. I tend to try to look at all these pieces of legislation in the view of climate change policy, because the Government has taken an all-policy approach to climate change, and we are looking across the board. This bill is very good for climate change policy. The member pointed out the hypothecation of a fuel excise tax, which just means, basically, that the tax is all tagged now for land transport purposes, and that includes public transport. The Minister responsible for Climate Change Issues told us at the select committee this morning that there has been a 6 percent increase lately in people taking public transport. Obviously, fuel prices are taking people out of their cars and putting them on to public transport.
But the Minister made the very good point that public transport has to come first. There is no point waiting for there suddenly to be this overwhelming demand and then trying to play catch-up. If the buses and the trains are not there for people to travel on,
then they will not be able to take public transport. So public transport has to be ahead of the game, and we have put an awful lot of money—I think it is over a 100 percent increase—into funding for public transport; I cannot remember the exact amount. But this hypothecation of that money going towards things like public transport will be very good for the Government’s commitment to climate change and to carbon neutrality.
On that note I will pick out just two things in this bill that again flow into the Government’s climate change policy—those are, of course, rail and coastal shipping, both of which the Minister mentioned. The Government’s decision to buy back the rail system is an incredibly important decision for this country. I think all of us know people who go overseas and then comment on the extensive use of rail in other countries that we like to compare ourselves to. We can look at what happened to our rail system in the 1990s and the early 2000s, and be incredibly happy that the Government has bought back those assets and is committed to getting them going again. In Gisborne we have not had rail since Cyclone Bola, so we have been a long time without any kind of formal rail system. We are very, very pleased, up my way, to know that the Government is committed to rail, and that rail does form an important part of transport policy when it comes to climate change.
The other system that forms an important part is coastal shipping. I believe that coastal shipping is key, in the climate change transport area, to reducing our emissions. We need to remember, of course, that the transport sector is a very large part of our emissions. Imagine if across the whole country we had integrated transport networks, and that more people—not just the people in Auckland and Wellington who already have pretty good public transport systems—were able to move out of their cars and into a public transport system. I am sure we would see an even greater emissions reduction.
I wanted to take a very short call on this bill, following on from the evidence given this morning at the select committee by the Minister responsible for Climate Change Issues. We spent some time on this matter and it is good to see that across all Government portfolios, and across all Government areas and ministries, we are taking an integrated approach to climate change issues. We are also taking a consistent approach. I challenge the next National Party speaker to stand and speak on climate change. Are we surprised that when something else has come along that is good for the environment—another piece of policy that is good for climate change—those members are voting against it? There is a huge vacuum in the area of climate change that the next National speaker needs to address. This part of our emissions profile is big, it needs to be addressed, but once again from the National Party we have all problems and no solutions. Thank you.
PANSY WONG (National)
: I have not heard another member manage to confuse so many of us in such a short speech. For a start, she challenged the next speaker, which is me, Pansy Wong, to talk about climate change. I thought, let me have another look at the Order Paper. We are actually debating the Land Transport Management Amendment Bill—right? I was really confused; she wants me to take a call on climate change? I thought, wow, she might like to join our Transport and Industrial Relations Committee, because she might learn a few more things in order to clear up some confusion. I wish that the next Labour member to take a call would speak to the statement, made by Moana Mackey, that the Labour Government embraces private and public partnership in building roads. I would like Labour members to name just one instance where that has happened in the last 8 years—just one, not two; we need only one. Well, I bet there are none.
The other thing that has me even more confused is that every week in the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee when we consider another bill like the Public Transport Management Bill, the Labour members keep complaining about the lack of
usage of our public transport and about how we have to do more. But just now Moana Mackey told the House that Labour is very happy that the usage of public transport has gone up and up in the last 8 years. So why is it that half of the Labour members complain about the lack of usage of public transport, while the other half keep saying how much it is going up? I am looking forward to the next Labour member taking a call to clarify some of those statements.
Another statement that I thought quite interesting was that the member said New Zealanders were really happy that the Minister of Finance had spent almost $1 billion on buying back the train system. Actually, I want to tell that member that Australians are even happier than New Zealanders about that. They actually described New Zealanders, particularly Michael Cullen, as having a “Helen moment”—whatever that means! After negotiating a so-called sale price, the Government suddenly discovered that it might have had a liability there that it had not taken account of.
During the select committee process on the Land Transport Management Amendment Bill we travelled to Christchurch and we travelled to Auckland. We met during the adjournment, and we listened to submissions during House sitting hours after question time, which meant there was a real sense of urgency to push the passage of this bill. Our chairman, the Hon Mark Gosche, kept impressing on us the importance of rushing the passing of this bill, and I now have a lot of sympathy for a lot of the submitters, who travelled to all sorts of places—Invercargill to Christchurch, etc.—to help rush through this bill. They thought that the Labour Government was being courageous and bold when it announced that its policy, and measures such as a regional fuel tax, would be implemented as soon as the bill was passed. They thought that the Government would have the conviction to carry that through.
We have just learned from the Minister of Transport, though, that she is going to introduce a Supplementary Order Paper. She will introduce a Supplementary Order Paper, but I believe that she has also been taken by surprise. I remember that one day while we were in the process of rushing through this bill, the intelligent and effective member, my colleague the Hon Maurice Williamson, came to the select committee and asked whether anyone had heard that the Prime Minister had already gone out and made an announcement saying that she would not let New Zealanders suffer from another petrol price hike. Well, I have bad news for the Prime Minister, too. Another of her Ministers, the Hon Maryan Street, announced just prior to Christmas that the accident compensation levy on petrol would go up by 2c on 1 July. I am afraid that the price of petrol is on the rise; accident compensation seems to be a black hole in terms of cost escalation there. So it was to our surprise that while we were rushing the passage of this bill, the Prime Minister unilaterally made an announcement saying we could forget it; the regional fuel tax would not be introduced until New Zealanders found it affordable. Looking at the forecasts for the price of a barrel of oil, I am not too sure for whom and when it will become realistically affordable. But it was very disappointing for those of us who had put so much time and effort into the bill—in the spirit of cooperation, even though we will not be supporting it—to see all that rushing come to a standstill.
The other issue I will raise is that this Labour Government does seem to like to tinker with structures. For some reason, Labour believes that fixing structures or dismantling structures will somehow achieve a policy objective. So here we are debating this Land Transport Management Amendment Bill, and looking at the coming together—the integration, the merger—of Land Transport New Zealand, the office of the Director of Land Transport, and Transit New Zealand into a single strategic Crown entity, to oversee policy, funding, etc. It was quite interesting when the Hon Maurice Williamson started to find it necessary to question all of the submitters who came before the select committee, because they were the same people who had complained to him years ago,
asking why the Government had one single entity, with the priority of being the essential body overriding local authorities. People felt that local projects were being given low priority. They badgered him, and eventually he yielded to their wisdom and agreed to the disintegration of that structure, only to find it is being put together again 9 years later.
I get a bit cynical, because the Labour Government also has a ploy, a plan, and it keeps changing its Minister, as well. Therefore, if anybody brings up a query, they will say: “Oh well, that was the previous Minister.” So I am very cynical about this move, which means that in future whenever there is something wrong, people will say: “Well, that was the previous Land Transport Authority.”, or “That was the Office of the Director of Land Transport.”, rather than say: “Well, that’s where the buck stops.” I can demonstrate with Immigration New Zealand, which is in big trouble at the moment. We have the Hon Clayton Cosgrove, who has just taken over from the Hon David Cunliffe, who took over from the Hon Lianne Dalziel, and before her was the Hon Paul Swain. That is why we have lost track of who can actually be held accountable, and I wonder whether the same ploy is now being used on this structural change. So I am afraid, even though we like some parts of this bill, we will find it hard to support it.
PETER BROWN (Deputy Leader—NZ First)
: There are parts of the Land Transport Management Amendment Bill that we are delighted with, and there are parts that we will endeavour to change.
Let me first explain the parts we are more than happy with. We are happy with the merger of Land Transport New Zealand and Transit. Providing that there is the right governance structure in place, the right management structure in place, and the right amount of transparency and accountability, we are more than happy with that. We are more than happy with the planning arrangements that this bill provides. We are delighted—absolutely delighted—that money will go into maritime search and rescue from the excise tax taken on the fuel that boat users purchase. We have advocated this for a long time, and the Minister was gracious enough to tell me sometime ago that this is a direct extract from New Zealand First policy. We are—and, indeed, I personally am—also delighted with the hypothecation of the excise tax into road and transport funding.
As I listened to the Hon Maurice Williamson I was thinking that in 1989 I went to the Rt Hon Winston Peters when he was shadow Minister of Transport, or the transport spokesperson. At the time I was working for port companies on port reform and we were trying to get ships to work 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, and with modern equipment. That would make a huge impact on shipping and the export of our commodities. It would also make a huge impact on cargo—freight—travelling to and from ports in a timely, managed manner. I told the Rt Hon Winston Peters that our roading and rail networks would not keep pace with the port network. That was long before I even thought of becoming an MP. Sometime later, when New Zealand First was formed, I reinforced those concerns to Winston Peters, again before I was an MP, even before I put my hat in the ring, I think.
He put into the ballot for members’ bills a bill that would hypothecate all the excise tax into the transport account. The bill came out of the ballot, and I have here the
Hansard of the then Minister of Transport. Much of what he said is childish. He said: “I want to start by saying right from the very beginning that the Government is totally opposed to this Bill.” He went on to say: “we disagree with … ‘all duties and taxes’ because it is just a nonsense. The first thing is, there would not be enough roading projects out there to do, or enough contractors out there to do them”. This was 6 years after I went to Winston Peters in a professional capacity and told him that roading was not keeping pace with the freight on the roads. The honourable Minister went on to say:
“Even at conservative estimates, with the doubling of the current annual road expenditure and present levels of charge, Transit New Zealand has identified no more than $500 million worth of projects that are worth doing in the future.” With that, the bill was voted down. The Minister, of course, was the Hon Maurice Williamson.
Winston Peters had a second go at this when, as Treasurer of this country, he started the scheme to transfer money across to the roading account on an annual basis—an extra 2.1c a year. By now it would all have been done. One year after New Zealand First started that, we got dumped—we were in coalition at that time.
Hon Maurice Williamson: You walked away.
PETER BROWN: We were dumped by the National Party. Months after that, the transfer ceased—it was a no-no. We have heard for the last 3 years from the Hon Maurice Williamson, who in particular has been on the road to Damascus, that all the money must be put into the roading account, yet he told us tonight that he will walk away from it again.
Having said that, I also have to say that we have some major concerns with this bill. I want to outline our concerns—first and foremost in respect of clause 5, which describes the new section 4, “Treaty of Waitangi”. The new section begins: “In order to recognise and respect the Crown’s responsibility to take appropriate account of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and to maintain and improve opportunities for Māori to contribute to land transport decision-making processes”. In other words, it does not say what the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi set out to achieve. Nobody knows. We will put up a Supplementary Order Paper to amend that clause—at least two amendments, possibly three—and we hope the House will vote for them because we want every clause in this bill to make sense to any New Zealander reading it. Nobody can tell us what that clause means when it refers to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, and I invite subsequent speakers to tell me, if they know.
Another concern that New Zealand First has relates to the regional fuel tax. We think it is unnecessary, and we think it is another imposition that will be put on to motorists—the truck motorists, the diesel motorists, and the petrol motorists—in an unfair and unnecessary way.
Hon Maurice Williamson: But you’re going to vote for it.
PETER BROWN: I say to Mr Williamson that we will put up a Supplementary Order Paper to address this; we will not just abdicate from the situation. I am certain that the member will support our efforts to do that.
There is a better and fairer way to use some of this GST windfall that the Government is collecting due to the price of petrol and fuel going through the roof. I have figures that show that the current cost of a litre of petrol is 212.9c. Of that figure, the Government collects 23.65c in GST. Pansy Wong just reminded the House that the accident compensation levy will go up by 2c or so in July, and there will be GST on top of that. So the price of a litre of petrol will go up even more. A year ago, or thereabouts, the cost of a litre of petrol was 155.9c, and the GST component was 17.322c. At current levels that is a windfall gain in excess of 6c—nearly 6.5c.
Dr Cullen’s argument is that if people buy petrol, they will not buy butter or cheese and they will not go to the movies—areas where he would collect GST. There is an element of truth in that, but it does not apply to every New Zealander. Some New Zealanders put their money into the bank, some put their money into shares, some go out and spend it leisurely—there would be a GST component there—and some probably put their banknotes or coins under the bed; I do not know. Those people have the ability to spend their dollars in a discretionary manner. They spend it, use it, or invest it for their social and economic well-being. We say that 4c of this 6c windfall should be put into a regional fund for the economic well-being of the whole country, and that regions
should be allowed to bid for it. It will work and it should be given a go. We must get away from the idea that every time we have a problem we should charge the motorists more. We must move away from that.
Let me just briefly comment on public-private partnerships. We do not believe in them, because they will mean paying tolls. There are two or three areas of concern. Firstly, the Government can borrow money more cheaply than private enterprises. Secondly, there must be a profit motive when private enterprises are invited into building or doing any enterprise. If people agree with that, so be it. Thirdly, and more important, when a member of Parliament gets into his or her car and travels here and there, he or she gets refunded by the taxpayer, as do the businessman and the person servicing the community. But the average Joe pays his toll from his net income—he has paid tax before he has to pay his toll, and that is unfair. That is why we are against tolling this country and raising petrol costs above what is reasonable and fair. This bill needs to address the concerns that New Zealand First has raised. Thank you very much.
JEANETTE FITZSIMONS (Co-Leader—Green)
: The Greens support the second reading of the Land Transport Management Amendment Bill, subject to some minor tweaking in a Supplementary Order Paper at the Committee stage, which I am sure will be no problem for the Government. I want to talk about two main issues today in this second reading speech. The first one is about the question of hypothecation of all petrol excise and road-user charges to the National Land Transport Fund. The Green Party is the only party in Parliament that has consistently challenged the view that all tax on petrol ought to go into roads, any more than the view that all tax on tobacco ought to go into cigarette factories or that all tax on booze ought to go into liquor outlets. The reason is that road use causes substantial external costs to the rest of the economy that have to be funded out of general taxation. Until now the petrol excise has been contributing to those costs. It has not been paying all of them; it has been contributing to them.
Last night the Institution of Professional Engineers put out a very well-considered report,
Transport: Engineering the Way Forward. Although we do not agree with everything the institution says, in many respects it has agreed with Green Party policy, particularly where it states in its report: “The mix of public and private providers, funding mechanisms, the interdependency of modes, and network availability may deter the selection of economically optimal modes. Government needs to ensure that the pricing of each of the three freight modes matches the real costs, including non-direct costs.”
There have been two major Government reports, the Land Transport Pricing Study of 1998—which Mr Williamson will remember—and the surface transport costs and charges report of the early 2000s. A lot of money has gone into both of those reports. Both of those reports showed markedly similar outcomes. Rail, for example, paid a very high proportion of its total costs to the economy, private motorcars paid very substantially less, and heavy trucks paid substantially less again—56 percent was the figure for heavy trucks.
So if we are to put all the petrol tax and the road-user charges into a land transport fund in order to pay for transport, then we need to have another way that makes real, in terms of the price of transport, the costs that it causes to the rest of the economy. Something that would do that transparently would be better than the current system, but we do not have anything to do that. There is no intention to do that. Both of those reports showed that the minimum band of confidence for the costs that are caused to the rest of the economy is about $1,200 million a year. That was at the bottom of the band. There is no proposal by anybody in this House that transport users should pay that; that is a subsidy from the taxpayer.
I will turn now to the regional fuel tax, which is the second-best way of funding public transport. It seems that even full hypothecation is not enough, and the Government wants even more money to go into more roads. This is a huge subsidy, again, to road transport users.
Our preference was for the regional fuel tax to go into public transport, which has been dramatically underfunded compared with roading over many years. We did manage to negotiate that only 5c could go into roading. If a second 5c is wanted, then it has to go into alternatives—not just public transport, but cycling facilities and so on. But it has been clear for many, many years that public transport is the poor relation and has been underfunded in terms of what is economically efficient for the economy, and the oil prices have just brought that home very clearly.
Last month’s figures show that vehicle kilometres travelled on the Auckland motorways are down by 3 percent. When have we seen that? Not only has the rate of increase stopped growing but also there is now no increase; there is now a reduction. That 3 percent is an average; it is 7 percent on the North Shore. Is that because the people who live on the North Shore cannot afford petrol and the people who live in South Auckland can? I do not think so. It is because the people on the North Shore now have an alternative. They have a very good busway, and they are using it. The people in South Auckland, who can afford transport the least, do not have a very good alternative. So they are still using their cars.
Let me spell it out really clearly for the House: better public transport reduces road traffic. It reduces maintenance costs, it reduces congestion, and it reduces the need for more roads. The Green Party is not saying that we should have no roads, as the Government always suggests when we ask a question—”Oh, we need roads for buses.” We have a lot of roads; they are full at the moment. They do not need to be full if we use them better, and that is what we want to do.
But what happens if we need public transport? Auckland pays. What happens if we need a new road in Auckland? The country pays. If we need to electrify the rail system to increase the number of passengers it can carry, from 6 million trips a year to 38 million, then Auckland pays not just its own nominal half share but also the interest on the Government’s half share, as well. Auckland is effectively funding the whole thing and, with this legislation, we are very generously allowing it to do it. If we want a new motorway, costing more than twice what that full electrification programme will cost, for just 4.5 kilometres of motorway tunnel in Waterview, then the approach is: “No problem; the Government will pay for that.” We keep hearing that Invercargill is not prepared to contribute to electrifying Auckland’s rail, but Invercargill is apparently quite happy to pay for a tunnel under Waterview, to complete, as they call it, State Highway 20. This is completely false economics.
But the Greens are pragmatists. In the absence of any other form of funding and given the essential nature of finishing the rail scheme in Auckland, we will support the regional fuel tax, and it is important that Auckland has asked for it. The Supplementary Order Paper will make clear, I gather, that that will be phased in at the rate needed. We support that, as well.
But there is a problem. On top of the regional projects chosen by democratic consultation in the region through the regional planning process, Ministers can add their pet projects on top and make Auckland pay the interest charges on those pet projects under new section 65N, which is to be inserted into the Land Transport Management Act by clause 31. This is what I call the Ministers’ pork-barrel clause. I thought initially that new section 65Q, which references new section 65J, meant that the Ministers’ choices for new roads in Auckland would also have to be consistent with regional priorities, as established by a democratic process in Auckland. But a closer reading of
that clause has revealed to me that that is not the case. In fact, after the regional priorities have been established and applied to the first 5c that Auckland will fund through the regional fuel tax, Ministers can add a second 5c that does not go through that process and that they do not have to put through that process, and Ministers are not obliged any longer, after the select committee—as they were when the bill came in—to be satisfied that their projects are consistent with the region’s priorities.
This is the worst kind of roading pork-barrel politics, and I do not believe that the Government intended it. It took me so much time last night, when I had another look at this, to work circuitously around the clauses, and around the actual impact of what the select committee had done, that I think it is a mistake. I do not believe that Ministers would want to force Aucklanders to pay the interest costs, through a regional fuel tax, on roading projects that they had not chosen and that were not consistent with their priorities. I think that it is just one of those drafting things that creep in inadvertently. On that basis we will vote for the second reading, because I believe that can be very easily fixed in the Supplementary Order Paper next week. Thank you.
Dr PITA SHARPLES (Co-Leader—Māori Party)
: Tēnā koe, Madam Assistant Speaker. There is an out-of-Parliament experience that a select group of MPs have on a regular basis as we go back to our homes. It is called the “rush-hour rock”, a curious tradition in which over 1.4 million New Zealanders, or about a third of our national population, juggle and jostle for road space.
This morning I logged on to aucklandtraffic.co.nz, to see whether things had miraculously changed. I want to share some of the views of Aucklanders about the traffic flow in Auckland City. There is Shaun, who says “I live in Pukekohe. Leaving at 6.30 a.m. each morning, it takes me approximately 1.5 hours to get to Greenlane where I work.” Warren says “Auckland’s public transport system has the worst patronage in Australasia. There are more cars per capita in Auckland than any other city in the world.” Andrew says “Insufferable and Third World. I have lived and worked all around the world, and this is my context. Major investment is needed quickly.” Juanita says “It is horrible every morning north bound and it is horrible every evening … south bound. That’s a possible total of 1½ to 2 hours a day … when I can spend that time at home with my kids. Not just that … I have to leave even earlier, which takes time from my kids, to get to work on time, and leave way later than the actual time I work till … just so the traffic isn’t soooo bad … again more time away from home … I hate Auckland traffic …”. Is it any wonder that in the 2007 Quality of Life Survey the residents of North Shore, Waitakere, and Manukau are the least satisfied of all New Zealanders with their work-life balance?
The Land Transport Management Amendment Bill is huge—huge in its scope and huge in its impact on New Zealanders. It sets out the Government’s high-level priorities for land transport, puts in place a new system for the funding and planning of land transport, and introduces full hypothecation of fuel excise duties to the National Land Transport Fund. The impact of two key issues addressed at the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee is alone significant: firstly, the proposition that rail should be more integrated into the transport planning and funding framework; and, secondly, the tightening up of the rules and regulations around regional fuel taxes.
But many other aspects of this legislation must be seen as being some of the most significant issues facing the nation. No discussion on this bill could begin without acknowledging that the development of public transport, including walkways, must be a key response to the dual challenges of peak oil and climate change. Across New Zealand, 70 percent of our carbon dioxide emissions from transport occur in urban areas. Improved public transport systems will result in lower emissions, greater oil independence, less smog, lower petrol bills, and a greater quality of life given that the
chronic road congestion could significantly diminish. We need to make a long-term investment to significantly reduce emissions by making our cities more walking and cycling friendly, investing in high-quality bus services and innovative light-rail systems, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, and reducing our relatively high levels of car ownership. The issue of investment—the economics of change—is the crux of the matter.
In the medium to long term, public transport will benefit lower-income earners by providing affordable transport as petrol costs continue to increase as a result of the global peak oil production crisis. In the face of this crisis, our priority in the Māori Party has always been to ask what measures might be put in place to assist low-income earners with petrol price rises in the short term. Although we must significantly reduce oil dependency and strategically plan for the utilisation and development of sustainable energy resources, we must equally be vigilant to ensure that all New Zealanders are able to access affordable transport options in a world where oil shortages will mean ever-escalating petrol prices. We will not forget the relentless pressure on working families, on families living in severe and significant hardship. Homeownership, education, energy, food, and health care costs have also risen faster than the overall rate of inflation. Families are struggling to meet the cost of a basic standard of living. Our hospitals are facing the pressure of children suffering Third World diseases, the origins of which have been clearly linked to overcrowding and income poverty. We will continue to speak out about poverty and the desperate conditions that many of our urban dwellers face.
We must protect their interests at all costs, so we will demand that the motorists who pay the extra tax are able to see a clear benefit from doing so, in the form of additional public transport options, including footpaths, that the region might not otherwise get. There must be a clear relationship between the introduction of the fuel tax and tangible results—and quickly. In the case of Tāmaki-makau-rau—Auckland—for instance, we need to see progress made immediately in developing a high-quality rapid transit system incorporating an electrified rail service and the North Shore busway, as well as a significantly improved network of public transport services right across the whole Auckland region.
There are, of course, other groups that stand to benefit from the improvements to the land transport management system. The inaccessible nature of public transport was brought to the attention of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee by CCS Disability Action. The concepts of participation, accountability, and non-discrimination against disabled people must permeate through land transport planning and funding. It is pleasing to see that specific provision is made for such groups to be included in the consultation rounds of regional transport committees.
I have concentrated on Auckland in response to the concerns of my constituency in my capacity as the member of Parliament for Tamaki Makaurau. There is no doubt that the electrification of the Auckland rail system will be a major step forward for passenger rail services. The Ministry of Works had plans to electrify Auckland rail in the 1940s. The plans were shelved then, just as they were shelved again in 1970. This is the third go at ensuring that the Auckland region is equipped with a world-class public transport rail service. Who would not support the decision to invest in new electric trains, upgraded rail stations, ferry terminals, passenger information and integrated ticketing, and other public transport capital projects? Putting it another way, if it is a choice between fast, clean, quiet electric trains and old, polluting diesel trains that are bursting at the seams at rush hour, I know which locomotion I would be sitting on.
Finally, we are well aware that the controversy around the regional fuel tax has fuelled hot debate in our own party and across the motu—the land. I believe that the
submission from the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development had some interesting things to say in support of the bill’s provision to enhance long-term, integrated planning and funding of land transport in New Zealand. The submission suggested that we need to better integrate rail, ports, and freight transport logistics into transport planning. Given the need to keep the cost of consumer goods like food, as well as the cost of public transport, as low as possible, this is a critical point that perhaps needs more work in the Committee stage of this bill. The submission also recommended that regional fuel taxes should be optimised according to the transport needs and priorities of a region, not to a predetermined formula decided by statute.
The stages that are required to secure approval for a regional fuel tax include sign-off by the regional transport committees, the regional council, and, finally, the Minister. In all of these stages the existing Local Government Act consultation process requires that tangata whenua and Māori communities be involved. We are satisfied that such a process is adequately robust to ensure that regional fuel taxes are committed to only if they will contribute to publicly supported and beneficial regional transport projects.
During the select committee process of this bill the regional fuel tax regime was tightened up. This resulted in a decision that the regions are unable to implement a regional fuel tax without the prior permission of the Minister. But the other key change was that the maximum amount of 5c for roading has been amended and clarified to include carriageways, bridle-paths, and footpaths. This created a much broader definition of roading that effectively includes within it all but a handful of public transport and freight terminal projects.
We will not shirk from being outspoken in caring for the interests of those who are suffering. We are enthusiastic about getting people off the roads, improving the public transport system, and making a long-term investment in the quality of life of New Zealanders, while at the same time enhancing the quality of our global environment. Thank you, Madam Assistant Speaker.
Hon PETER DUNNE (Leader—United Future)
: United Future strongly supports the second reading and subsequent stages of the Land Transport Management Amendment Bill as providing a new way for the planning, development, and funding of land transport - related issues in this country.
I will use two local examples this afternoon to demonstrate the impact of this legislation on the people whom I am privileged to represent in this House. In a few days’ time we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of New Zealand’s first urban electric rail passenger service—the Johnsonville line. For about 25 of the last 70 years I have been fighting a battle to keep the Johnsonville line, and it has come and gone as various councils have come and gone, and as various people with their bright ideas have come and gone. But the really good news is that the decision made last year to commit $227 million to the upgrading of Wellington’s urban rail services has finally given that line a security it has lacked from probably the very early years of its foundation. We will soon start to see work developing to upgrade the tunnels and the platforms so that new units can come on to that line as part of the bigger Wellington urban transport package from 2010.
I say that today because the framework this Land Transport Management Amendment Bill ushers in, in terms of the funding and the responses given to the various modes of transport, is what makes it possible. I can recall in the late 1980s that a very prominent report, the McCutcheon report on public passenger transport, was supposed to be definitive in terms of assigning a value to the various modes of passenger transport alongside roading and ensuring that we got a fair and equitable funding regime for public passenger transport services, be they bus, train, ferry, or whatever, in comparison with the funding that was dedicated to roading. The
presumption at that time was that our system was biased in favour of roading and against public transport. Frankly, 20 years later, it has not really worked out that way. This bill is the latest effort to put in place a much better coordinated strategy that will deliver benefits to the people we represent.
The second example that I will quote to the House is almost as old as the first one—that is, the struggle to get some finality on the best way in and out of this city to the north. It is called Transmission Gully. It has had a variety of names over the years. There was an ill-fated plan a few years ago to cantilever a highway out around the rugged Cook Strait coast to the north and somehow go through a whole lot of local communities and provide that security and safety for the people of Wellington. Well, that was utterly rejected—90-something percent of the submissions made were against that proposal.
One of the things United Future was able to do in negotiation with the current Government after the last election was to get a commitment that the funding that had been hitherto set aside for resolving Wellington’s western corridor transport issues could be transferred to Transmission Gully, if that proved to be the most popular and viable outcome from the region’s point of view. So that has come to pass. Now we have the decision this week on a new route, which will be announced shortly, and a clear commitment from the Government—which we welcome—that the next stage can proceed, thus making possible the construction of this highway, which has been posited as a highway since 1939. The area was first identified in 1906 as being a viable option for the main trunk railway line north, so the idea has been around for over 100 years. We are now finally at the point where decisions can be made that give some certainty that this project will proceed.
That is where the other part of this bill becomes important—the provisions relating to how the funding will be delivered through the regional fuel tax. We support the notion of having a regional fuel tax for projects of this type. We welcome the cap being put at 5c for roading projects. The other criteria contained within this bill are to ensure that that tax will be applied only under very specific and tight conditions, and they are these. Firstly, the project has to be identified as being the primary priority of the region and of regional significance. Clearly, that would apply in the case of Transmission Gully. Secondly, the funding has to be for a specific project—for example, the development of a road. It cannot just go into the general pool. Assuming that the time comes when the funding for the project has been exhausted, then the tax itself is exhausted.
The regime that the bill introduces is critically important for the delivery of good transport services for the people of my electorate and for the people of the Wellington region in general. Right across New Zealand we have had the debate for a very long time—the previous speaker, Dr Pita Sharples, alluded to it in respect of Auckland—as to how we fund necessary transport infrastructure. We can all hark back to a golden era, which is ill-defined, when all these things were provided for perfectly, but the reality is that over the postwar period in particular, at the urban level, at the State highway level, and at the national level, funding for our transport infrastructure has been on a steady decline. It reached its apogee in the early years of this century when, in short order, the Government had to rescue the airline and the railway, it had to acknowledge that roads were chronically underfunded, and it also had to rescue the national power system. We can never let that situation occur again, and that is why a bill of this type is so critical.
I am aware that there will be a whole variety of issues and interests about some of the bill’s provisions. I noted yesterday, for instance, at the Federated Farmers national conference, that some concern was expressed about the composition of regional land transport committees. People were asking why it was that some of the major user groups were, apparently, excluded from at least some of these committees at a specific regional
council level. That is a matter that the House can explore as the bill proceeds through its remaining stages. But it is important that we have in place framework legislation that enables us to start to make real progress on some of the big transport issues, the resolution of which have eluded us for so long.
The relevance of this to our national economy should not be underestimated. We are a small, isolated trading country. We rely on our ability to get products to market quickly and efficiently. If our roading systems or our rail systems are not up to the mark, then a couple of things will happen. Firstly, we will simply be bypassed by a number of the shipping companies—that is happening already. The outlets for our products will be reduced. Secondly, at a provincial and regional level we will see competition taking away goods from our area to other areas, not necessarily because the prices are better but simply because the transport networks make that more possible. If we are really serious about good infrastructural development to assist the growth of our regions, then the package of measures that this legislation introduces needs to be proceeded with.
I am very supportive of the Land Transport Management Amendment Bill. I welcome the fact that it means we can address significant local transport priorities, particularly those relating to rail and to road. When we talk about peak oil and everything else, there are people who ask why we are building more roads at a time when petrol prices are rising. Those people fail to acknowledge that the motive power for vehicles will change. It may be that some of the hybrid systems now being developed will become more sophisticated. Other alternative forms of energy will be developed. There will always be cars. There will always be people wanting to go from A to B by motor vehicle. We need to ensure that our roading network is capable of serving their needs.
I am very happy to support the bill. I see it as a hugely positive step forward. I acknowledge that the climate that it has brought about—which has seen issues like urban rail in Wellington given some certainty for the long term—will see the development of Transmission Gully, which will give certainty not just to current generations but also to future generations of Wellingtonians. These are immensely positive and beneficial steps for our region. This bill is certainly part of making that happen.
DAVID BENNETT (National—Hamilton East)
: It is with great pleasure that I speak in regard to the Land Transport Management Amendment Bill. This bill relates to the fundamental changes that the Labour Government is bringing about in the transport sector as the result of a number of inquiries that have identified some major problems in terms of value for money that the sector has encountered over a number of years. The ministerial advisory group report was probably the first report on the issue, and it indicated there was a serious concern about value for money in many of the projects, especially in the Auckland region. That report was, I guess, a bit of a wake-up call for the Government, and it gave a formal indication that there were problems in the transport sector in terms of the way money was being used in the procurement of roading projects.
That led to the
Next Steps in the Land Transport Sector Review, which was a more substantial document that had to determine what the options would be for the future reform of the transport sector. We are seeing that reform in the legislation here today. The proposed merger of Land Transport New Zealand and Transit New Zealand, with the enhanced role of the Ministry of Transport, really is an indication of one of the options that the Next Steps review came up with, and it has been followed by the Government in this case.
On National’s side of the House we have a former Minister of Transport, Maurice Williamson, who has indicated that in many cases in the past the combination of provider and funder caused a number of problems. Not very many years ago they were actually devolved into two separate groups in order to resolve that problem. Now that we are putting them together again, the problems encountered many years ago may potentially come back to haunt the transport sector in the future.
That is of great concern to National, because the strategic decision to merge the two organisations under the Next Steps review may not be the best solution to the problem of ensuring there is value for money in roading. It smacks of a rushed decision-making process by the Government. First of all, the Government was not willing to acknowledge it had a problem regarding value for money and procurement. Then, when proposals did come before the Government, it became a matter of snapping up the proposals that it thought would be easiest to get through before an election. The Government did not have the confidence that the sector would demand in decision making at a level that will influence the future of the transport sector for many years to come, because this is a major structural change in how we govern our transport sector and a large amount of Government funding is used in that sector.
Another aspect of this legislation is the use of extensive planning processes. The National Party welcomes that; planning certainty has been long overdue. Many contractors have made it clear that they believe that certainty is a key driver of their ability to deliver serious roading projects for New Zealand. Those projects typically have a long-term life cycle in building and construction, and also in usage. A year-by-year process of indicating what would be funded has caused a number of dilemmas to those who would provide the construction capability, because they cannot plan ahead in the sense that they want to. The 3-year planning cycle that has been provided here is a start, but the reality is that that industry, along with many other strategic industries in New Zealand, needs to have a much longer process than that. If we look overseas, we see that many countries engage in 20 to 30-year time frames for their planning processes, which gives even greater certainty to organisations involved in providing construction services. So although some planning is provided here, it is not planning to the extent that would provide the impetus for the long-term solutions to be reached that we need as a country on many of these issues. In some ways having that planning provision in the legislation is a start, but it certainly is not a solution that is in the best interests of New Zealand transport policy.
Regional petrol taxes are another big part of this legislation, and that is probably the most interesting provision from a public perspective. That is probably the element that people have grappled with, because they understand the potential for 10c a litre to be added to petrol prices at the pump. At the moment petrol prices are excessively high, as they are around the world. In a lot of cases the issue is one of supply and demand, but essentially the public are resistant to another petrol tax being put on to them at a time when the economy is very slow and personal household budgets are very tight. The Prime Minister has even indicated that although this legislation will provide for regional petrol taxes, she does not intend to implement them in the next year. We have an election coming up, and it seems very convenient to pass legislation to provide for regional petrol taxes but then not implement them.
If the Prime Minister thinks her decision will influence the voting public and they will be swayed by having a 1-year moratorium on petrol taxes, even though they know they will be hit with them in the second and third years, then she has a lot to learn. Clearly the public will see through that. They know that that provision is only a temporary measure to try to abate any cost increase and influence them to vote for this Government at the election. That simply will not work. The public know that petrol
prices are high now and will go higher. A 1-year moratorium on petrol tax increases by the Prime Minister for the sake of political expediency will not work in terms of getting votes at the ballot box.
It is also interesting to look at what the Minister of Transport, Annette King, said at the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee last week about regional petrol taxes. She was very averse to agreeing with the Prime Minister’s statement. The Minister is much more resilient in terms of knowing that if the roading projects or the public transport funding that is envisaged for Auckland is to go ahead, there probably will need to be some kind of regional petrol tax in Auckland in the next year. The Minister was less willing to grant an assurance to the public of New Zealand that there would be such a moratorium for the next year. So we see a conflict within the Labour Party as to whether there will be a moratorium. It is doubtful whether the public can give much credence to what the Labour Party has been saying in this area, because if Labour is passing a provision for a petrol tax, then it intends to impose the tax. It may give a short time-frame out of that process, but in reality it will impose that petrol tax at some point in time.
It was interesting also to see what New Zealand First has come up with today in respect of petrol taxes. From listening to the speech by its member, it seems that New Zealand First will not support the petrol tax and thinks it should come out of the GST component of the petrol price. That would be an interesting proposal in the sense that if the money was taken out of the GST component of the petrol price, then that money would have to be taken out of some other form of Government spending. The GST component goes into the funding of the Government accounts, so is New Zealand First also proposing that funding for superannuation or for its SuperGold card be reduced so that the funding the petrol tax would have provided can come from GST? Maybe that is what New Zealand First is saying, but we will have to wait and see whether that is the case. But perhaps it is talking about a reduction in the foreign affairs budget to take account of lower funding from GST and from the Government from taxes, to reconcile with New Zealand First’s reduced petrol tax formula.
The regional petrol tax was also probably the part of the process that most submitters concentrated on, in the sense that many councils told the select committee that they would want to have the ability to determine how the funding would be split. Currently this legislation provides for a mandatory 5c:5c split, and although the Māori Party indicated that there had been some change in that definition, the change is very nominal. The reality is that many councils, especially those outside Auckland, will not want to spend 5c a litre of any regional petrol tax on public transport, simply because they do not have the ability, or need, to do that. The Government of the day should have taken notice of what the regions have said; the Auckland region was the only one that encouraged that split. That is another issue to do with a regional petrol tax that needs to be addressed in this legislation.
Hon DARREN HUGHES (Deputy Leader of the House)
: It is amazing how little can be said in 10 minutes, and the previous speaker is an expert at it. He gave a description of everyone else’s policies, but there was not a sentence about what he thinks about this bill from a policy perspective. However, I am happy to take much less than 10 minutes to say how important this bill is for my constituency of Otaki.
The Horowhenua and Kapiti area is looking for new transport initiatives to take place, the most important of which is Transmission Gully, and that is why I am in support of this bill. I believe that it provides a valuable tool in our toolkit so we are able to construct that important road, but the fact that the bill also puts out longer-term plans to allow for the inclusion of public transport is also very, very important. We need electrification of that railway line. It goes through to Waikanae at the moment but it
needs to go right through to Palmerston North. The region has to take a holistic view of that issue. To build an expensive road like Transmission Gully we need to look at every option around. That is what this bill does. It gives us another option to look at, as a region, and I appreciate that enormously for our community.
This week alone the preliminary investigation has come back showing the road as being $285 million cheaper than we thought it would be, but there is still a gap between Crown funding and what the region will have to come up with. That is why this kind of legislation gives us that extra tool in the toolkit. I support it, because we have to ensure we have modern 21st century transport for the Wellington region, and this legislation will be welcomed by my constituents. That is why I wanted the opportunity to take a brief call in support of it.
A party vote was called for on the question,
That the amendments recommended by the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee by majority be agreed to.
||New Zealand Labour 49; New Zealand First 7; Green Party 6; Māori Party 3; United Future 2; Progressive 1; Independent: Field.
||New Zealand National 48; Independent: Copeland.
|Question agreed to.
A party vote was called for on the question,
That the Land Transport Management Amendment Bill be now read a second time.
||New Zealand Labour 49; New Zealand First 7; Green Party 6; Māori Party 3; United Future 2; Progressive 1; Independent: Field.
||New Zealand National 48; Independent: Copeland.
|Bill read a second time.