Labour Opens up National Land Transport Fund in GPS

Labour this week announced how they want to spend the annual $4 billion National Land Transport Fund. The government has proposed to double spending on regional roads to make them safer along with initiating a 42 percent increase towards upgrades on local roads.

The report shows a marked difference in the way that the NLTF is to be used. The government intends to break from the historical single modal spending of the NLTF, diversifying it into public transport including rail. A move that has baffled and infuriated industry pundits.

The large spend in the regions will be partly offset by an 11 percent cut in spending on state highways.

The government has proposed a fuel tax of between nine and 12 cents per litre over the next three years.

For Aucklanders, that would be in addition to the introduction of a 10 cent per litre regional fuel tax from July onwards.

National Party transport spokesman Jami-Lee Ross told RNZ that people in the regions would be forking out more hard earned dollars for the benefit of one city.

"I don't think that's good enough from this government."

He said pulling funding from state highways meant fewer roads would be upgraded.

Mr Ross said $5bn that was planned by National for highway funding would have been better for the regions by making them more connected.

It was unfair that the funding was now going to be spent in the main centres, he said.

According to Ross, Labour is spending the same amount that National had planned on spending.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government had not broken its election promise to not introduce new taxes. The fuel tax, she says, was an existing excise duty.

Ms Ardern told RNZ fuel excise duty had routinely been increased over the years.

"Because we said we're not bringing anything new in. Yes, we canvassed a regional fuel tax for Auckland, this is not a regional fuel tax, this is excise."

Ms Ardern said everyone knew Auckland's transport system was a "basket case" and the plan aims to improve lower-cost options for getting from A to B.

Associate Transport Minister Shane Jones said the plan would be a big help to the regions economically.

"For the provinces there will be a significant increase in attention to roads that have been neglected, that will include bridges."

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