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Having repeatedly insisted that there is no transport budget crisis, Gerry Brownlee is now seeking the power to borrow to build uneconomic motorways, Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said today.
Transport Minister Brownlee today tabled a Bill before the House that would give the New Zealand Transport Agency the power to borrow large amounts to fund projects, whereas previously it could only undertake limited cashflow borrowing. It also seeks to fund roading projects through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs).
"National is clearly planning to borrow to pay for its uneconomic motorways," said Ms Genter.
"The cost of the National Government's extravagant motorway building is blowing out. The cost of the Wellington Northern Corridor project alone has risen by $300 million in the past three years.
"The Government has been facing a growing funding gap between stagnant road tax revenue due to declining road use and the rising costs of its uneconomic motorway programme.
"After cutting or freezing funding for everything but their new pet motorways, National is now turning to putting the cost on the nation's credit card.
"The Government is seeking to borrow more and use PPPs as a form of backdoor borrowing. That means that uneconomic projects will go ahead, and New Zealanders will be shackled with the interest payments. That is reckless.
"The responsible move would be to defer low-value spending on new motorways and invest in smart projects that will make our entire transport network more resilient, especially as we are facing a stagnant global economy and high oil prices.
"The Green Party supports a smart, green transport plan. Investment in public transport is much more cost effective and jobs rich than new motorways.
"We don't need to borrow to get better buses and trains, safer walking and cycling, and more cost effective road improvements," said Ms Genter.