'Time for some rebalancing': Business leader welcomes public transport push

  • 29/06/2018

A major boost for public transport is being hailed as a win for businesses currently losing out to heavy traffic.

Four billion dollars will be pumped into the sector next year, with particular focus on easing congestion. Spending is planned to rise over the decade.

Employers and Manufacturers Association chief executive Kim Campbell says Auckland businesses lose up to $3 billion a year due to congestion and other traffic issues.

"Having the economic development being led by transport means people can plan with much more certainty," he told Newshub.

Mr Campbell says the Government still needs to put some emphasis on road infrastructure though.

"This Government with a slightly greener tinge is talking a little bit more about public transport, but we need them both - we need them all. Perhaps the time for some rebalancing is in order."

But he says the Government needs to release more details about how they'll spend the money.

"They need to start getting some of these projects getting ready to go, so that the industry can get ready to rock and roll. You don't just spend $30 billion - you need enormous resources to do that."

The Government's transport policy, which includes a regional fuel tax for Auckland and regular increases of the nationwide excise tax, is being ripped apart by National.

The petrol excise duty will also rise by 3.5 cents a litre from September 30, an equivalent increase in road user charges in October, and Auckland's 11.5c regional fuel tax (including GST) kicks in on July 1.

It also gives massive boosts to walking and cycling infrastructure, road safety promotions and local road improvements. State highways, favoured by the previous Government, will see a slight drop in funding.

National's transport spokesperson Jami-Lee Ross says it's a raid on our back pockets.

"This is a tax that will hurt people that are at the poorest end of the socio-economic spectrum the most. They're the people who don't have the ability to afford this, but they're going to be hit the hardest."

Transport Minister Phil Twyford says the average cost per Auckland household per week will be $5.77, with wealthier households looking at a hike of $7.71 and the poorest $3.64.

"He's had advice from his own ministry that the lowest-income people will be hurt the most by these fuel taxes," says Mr Ross. "He went ahead anyway... he's socking them the most."

National increased the excise tax several times during its years in power, but has long opposed regional fuel taxes.