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The Government must act responsibly and cancel wasteful spending on low-value highway projects following official warnings that the transport budget will blow-out in the coming decade, Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said today.
Documents made public today show that revenue from transport taxes will fall $2 billion short of planned transport expenditure in the next decade. This follows similar warnings in the 2011 Briefing to the Incoming Minister, which noted that most of the Government's expenditure on new state highways is on low-value projects.
"The Government's own officials have warned that its obsession with a few low-value highway projects, which it calls the Roads of National Significance, will blow a $2 billion hole in the budget," said Ms Genter.
"At a time of record deficits, rising petrol prices, and falling traffic volumes, New Zealand can't afford to waste money on National's obsession with a few low-value highways.
"Minister Brownlee does not even seem to understand the problem. We're not debating past decisions about roads that already exist. We're asking: what is the best use of $14 billion over the next ten years? Upgrading a few highways to four lanes just isn't a responsible use of billions of dollars.
"Kiwis deserve a Government that delivers them value for money and a transport system that meets the country's future needs. Minister Brownlee's poor grasp of the challenges facing his portfolio and refusal to engage in meaningful debate on this issue is disappointing.
"The motorway blowout will leave almost no money for smart, green transport solutions like better bus and train services, safer walking and cycling, and maintenance of our rural roads.
"We need an objective and informed reassessment of which transport projects should be prioritised to meet the challenges New Zealand faces," said Ms Genter.
Transport briefing to the Incoming Minister, 2011