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House of Representatives
4 April 2012
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7. Transport Funding—Value for Money

[Sitting date: 04 April 2012. Volume:679;Page:1643. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]

7. JULIE ANNE GENTER (Green) to the Minister of Transport: Has the Government reviewed its highway building programme in light of the warning in the briefing to the incoming Minister that there will be a $4.9 billion funding shortfall if oil prices remain high and economic growth remains low; if not, why not?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Minister of Transport) : No; because I read all of the briefing to the incoming Minister, which makes it clear that if oil prices continues to rise, the $4.9 billion shortfall in forecast expenditure might occur in the period 2021 to 2030. It further says that this scenario is in the nature of a risk rather than a certainty. If we reviewed our roading policy every time there was a fluctuation in oil price or someone commented on our growth rate, we would do nothing.

Julie Anne Genter: If he believes that oil prices are cyclical or fluctuating and not rapidly trending upwards, when will oil prices fall back below US$68 a barrel, which was the 2012 oil price forecast when the Government first budgeted for the roads of national significance?

Mr SPEAKER: As far as the Minister of Transport has any responsibility for oil prices, I call the Hon Gerry Brownlee.

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: If I knew that, I would not be in this Parliament—that is for sure.

Julie Anne Genter: Has he seen the Crown’s Financial Statements published today that show that road tax revenue is $66 million below forecast this year, and will the Government be pumping more money from ordinary Crown revenue into his motorway projects to make up the shortfall?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Yes, and no, because the funding for roading projects comes from the road users.

Julie Anne Genter: Has the Government determined conditions under which it would not be fiscally responsible to continue to prioritise the roads of national significance; if so, what are they?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: One of the interesting things in the briefing to the incoming Minister is the prediction that there will be more alternative fuel vehicles on the road in the period during which the shortfall may occur. What we do notice is that those alternative fuel vehicles will still need roads, so we will still be building them.

Julie Anne Genter: Do not road users deserve their money to be spent on transport projects that will give the most bang for their buck, that are well supported by evidence, and that protect all New Zealanders from rising oil prices?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Every bit of evidence I have seen suggests that New Zealanders like the roading projects.