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Measures To Fill $20m Driver Licensing Hole

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Steven Joyce
Steven Joyce

Transport Minister Steven Joyce says poor financial oversight by the previous government has resulted in a $20 million shortfall in the driver licensing and testing area.

The NZ Transport Agency has today started public consultation on its proposed changes to fees for licensing and testing services to meet the shortfall and rebalance charges.

The fees have not been reviewed since 2001.

"The gap between the fees received and the costs incurred has grown markedly over recent years and this imbalance must be addressed in order to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of our driver licensing system."

Costs have increased for a number of reasons, including:

Inflation of about 21% between December 2001 and December 2008 Legislative and policy changes have resulted in additional costs that have not been recovered Back in 2001 some fees were set below cost Some transactions have not historically been charged for - including driver license suspensions.

Mr Joyce says the cost increases add up to a total projected deficit of $21.78 million in the driver licensing account by June 2010.

"To counter this, NZTA is looking at ways to improve its systems and reduce costs. The Agency will have to absorb much of the current deficit but we can't allow it to keep growing. It's currently increasing at a rate of about $650,000 per month. NZTA is therefore now consulting on fee changes that will better match the actual costs of providing each service."

Proposed changes would mean that for 18 services the fees are reduced, while for 23 services fees are increased. Four fees, including those for drivers aged 75 years and older would remain unchanged.

"While an increase in some fees is necessary, the government recognises the impact of increased costs on New Zealanders and all fee rises have been kept as low as possible," says Mr Joyce.

"I am disappointed about any fee increase but this can't continue to be swept under the rug as it has in the past."

The schedule proposes three new fees, one for license reinstatement after disqualification (which has been agreed to by Parliament) and two admin fees for withdrawing from and / or rescheduling a driving test.

Mr Joyce says the license reinstatement fee is important.

"It's simply not acceptable that responsible, law-abiding drivers have for so long carried the costs of people whose licenses have been suspended and then reinstated."

The proposed changes would also reduce and standardise the fees for commercial drivers. Currently, there is considerable variation in fees for commercial drivers.

The proposed changes to the most common licensing and testing fees are:

Service Current fee ($) Cost of delivery ($) Proposed fee ($) Change ($) Change (%) Licence renewal fee

44.30 42.31 43.00 -1.30 -3% Learner licence (application and test fees) 79.00 93.10 91.90 12.90 16% Restricted licence (application and test fees) 88.20 107.05 105.80 17.60 20% Full licence (application and test fees) 115.10 133.17 133.20 18.10 16%

The Minister has asked officials to conduct a fundamental review of the driver licensing and driver testing services business model in the 2010/11

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