Petrol-tax rises not needed for roads - Labour

MICHAEL FORBES
Last updated 05:00 07/03/2013

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Government documents show the petrol-tax rise announced just before Christmas was not needed, Labour claims.

In each of the next three years, the Government plans to impose a 3 cents a litre rise to the excise component of petrol, adding 9 cents by 2015. It will be matched by higher user charges on diesel.

When the tax rise was announced in December, Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said it was needed to deliver the Government's roads of national significance programme, and maintain the value of the National Land Transport Fund.

But Labour's transport spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway said yesterday that documents obtained from the Ministry of Transport and Transport Agency under the Official Information Act suggested otherwise.

Figures included in a briefing to Mr Brownlee in May showed if the Transport Agency simply increased fuel excise in line with inflation, currently about 1 per cent, it would collect about $57.2 billion in revenue by 2027.

That would be more than its predicted spending of $56.6b on infrastructure over that time..

Mr Lees-Galloway said by deferring some big-ticket infrastructure projects such as the Transmission Gully highway and Kapiti expressway north of Wellington, the Government could achieve all it wanted within a reasonable time frame without hitting taxpayers in the pocket.

A Ministry of Transport spokeswoman said that while current figures showed the next 14 years of expenditure could be met without a petrol-tax rise, deferring projects could make them more expensive in the long run.

She did not specify what effect it could have on the Transport Agency's current infrastructure programme.

Mr Brownlee was unavailable for comment yesterday.

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- The Dominion Post

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