Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Labour's hypocrisy on tolls continues

I like tolls, pricing the roads is user pays after all, and if the roads were properly priced then the ones people want would be properly funded, and the ones too many people wanted would be at a premium, and not gridlocked (and the scope would be there to build more capacity, or for public transport to emerge as competition).

National and Labour both like tolls too, though you wouldn't think so reading Labour's press releases and leftwing blogs which pretend tolls are something Labour know nothing about.

Following National’s pork for Waikato roads announcement, Labour is saying that it thinks National will do it by Public Private Partnerships with tolls, although National said nothing of the sort. (Frankly I’d happily tell the private sector if it wants to build some motorways, paying for it itself and charging tolls, go right ahead without any taxpayer money).

Labour is saying it doesn’t like Public Private Partnerships, despite introducing and passing legislation to allow them six years ago! On top of that Labour announced it would investigate using PPPs to finance the Waterview extension of State Highway 20! It then welcomed a report recommending this approach! In August 2008 Ms King said:

"It seems that Waterview, New Zealand’s largest ever roading project, could well be the first PPP, but the generic blueprint provided by the steering group report could, of course, lead to other examples in the future, such as a new Auckland harbour crossing or Transmission Gully in Wellington"

On top of that, Annette King says National isn’t to be trusted to not toll the remaining sections of the Waikato Expressway. This is hilarious, given that the former Transit New Zealand investigated where across the country tolling COULD be introduced, and one section of the Waikato Expressway came up as being a possibility. Labour has never ruled out tolling parts of the Waikato Expressway.

Indeed it approved tolling the next extension of Auckland's Northern Motorway, and the Transit former website identifies four more roads for tolling.

Then she creates conspiracies “Ms King said she believed the National Party's secret agenda "is to change the law so a free alternative route isn't required when a toll road is built". Why, Ms King, has Labour funded the first and second stages of the Auckland Road Pricing Evaluation Study, which is specifically about tolling existing roads in Auckland? Not that there is anything at all wrong with this, but Labour isn’t much different from National on this.

She then says “the National Party had opposed the potential increase in non-roading expenditure, like coastal shipping, and rail freight”. Maybe because National believes that taxes collected from road users ought to be spent on roads? What a radical concept! So unfair!

Labour is fighting against National because National talks about tolls – a policy Labour introduced, passed legislation to allow and approved for two toll roads(and surrendered one as the price to pay for NZ First support after the last election). Labour is criticising National because it talks about public private partnerships, a policy Labour introduced and passed legislation to allow.

Labour itself commissioned studies into introducing tolling on existing roads in Auckland. Paul Swain as Transport Minister, in 2003 said:

"Cordon tolls, zone tolling and congestion charging also offer significant potential as both a source of funds and a tool for traffic management."

Indeed, so why the desperate fuss to point the finger at National when you've been funding a project, using motoring taxes, to build a tolling system that will be scalable to more toll roads.

and what is a 10c/l regional fuel tax (12.5c if you include GST) if it isn't a sneaky toll, of around $5-$8 every time you fill your tank up.

No comments: