Government to make road pricing announcement - Phil Goff

Auckland Council can't keep borrowing the money it needs to deal with its worsening traffic problem, Mayor Phil Goff says.

He told The Nation on Saturday a road pricing system is essential, and the Government is about to act on it.

"Next week you'll hear an announcement from Government on road pricing. I don't want to comment on it because I can't pre-empt the Government's announcement."

Newshub understands the announcement will be for a congestion charge, as indicated in the Auckland Transport Alignment Project, to be implemented in the next five years.

"I think it will be good news in the medium-term, but we need something in the short-term," Mr Goff says.

"We cannot leave it like we left the City Rail Link - we'll get the City Rail Link and it'll really help, but it won't help for another five years.

"In the meantime the city's becoming more and more gridlocked. We need to bring that expenditure forward. That is the case I'm making - not just me, but all our Auckland councillors are making to the Government."

Auckland Council's borrowing rules work on a debt-to-revenue ratio, which says it cannot borrow more than 265 percent of its revenue, he says. Right now the council's borrowing level is at 256 percent.

"Why is that? Because we've just put $1.7 billion into paying for the City Rail Link - the only city in New Zealand that's paying for its own heavy rail.

"If you go to Australia and you see a big city like Melbourne - where do they get their money for infrastructure? The federal government puts down to the state government a share of GST. We need something like that."

He says the Government haven't responded yet to his proposal for a similar system in New Zealand.

"We're now growing by 45,000 a year, so we add the population the size of the city of Tauranga every three years.

"The Government knows with that growth - 800 extra cars on the road each week - they've got to work with us to resolve this problem, for the sake of New Zealand as well as Auckland.

"We're the one internationally competitive city that New Zealand has. And we cannot remain competitive if we're gridlocked."


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