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Hughes: Joyce Lifts One Of National's "Seven Veils"

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Darren Hughes
Darren Hughes

28 January 2009 - Labour transport spokesperson Darren Hughes says Transport Minister Steven Joyce has wittingly or unwittingly lifted one of National's secret "seven veils" in terms of how it will fund new roading infrastructure projects.

"It has not been at all clear how National intends to fund major new roading projects without borrowing, or increasing road user charges, petrol excise duty and registrations, or through significant increases in the number of tolled roads," Darren Hughes said.

"Now the real agenda is apparent. Steven Joyce has made it quite clear to the Christchurch Press that he is prepared to put funding for public transport and walking and cycling projects on the back burner to pay for new roads.

"If National's thinking wasn't so muddled, it would almost be laughable, but the reality is that National's passion for roads and more roads and nothing else is yet another kick in the teeth for the environment."

Darren Hughes said Labour had allocated forecast spending of $640 million on public transport in 2008/09.

"I suppose it is no surprise National has no intention of promoting public transport as a viable and effective way of driving down use of private vehicles and reducing carbon emissions. Given the fact that National only spent an average of $40 million a year on public transport during the 1990s, it is probably simply wishful to hope they might show some commitment now."

Darren Hughes said National had made its attitude toward climate change quite clear before Christmas, putting the Emissions Trading Scheme on hold, fast-tracking legislation to end a moratorium on new fossil-fuelled power stations, scrapping the biofuels legislation and stopping the phase out of old-fashioned inefficient light bulbs.

"And then, of course, Finance Minister Bill English said in December that increases in rail infrastructure will have to be re-examined to see if they make sense. That can only mean one thing. KiwiRail will not be able to source funding, either directly from the Government or through borrowing, to buy the new rolling stock it so desperately needs to be able to compete. "All this flies in the face of what is happening in developed countries overseas. Imagine what some of our friends must think when they read that our Transport Minister has little or no commitment to improving public transport as a priority.

National's policy is laughable, but sadly it is no laughing matter for New Zealand."

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