Free Press – 6/06/2017


 

A Well Deserved Honour

Michael “Iceman” Jones was an outstanding flanker and World Cup winning All Black. More recently he’s thrown his weight behind Partnership Schools, specifically the Pacific Advance Senior School in South Auckland. PASS is innovative and making fantastic progress with kids who, in many cases, felt the Government had left them out. Sir Michael is the Second Partnership School sponsor to receive an honour after the legendary Sita Selupe who has been Next Magazine woman of the year, a Sir Peter Blake Leader, and was recognized by the Queen as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Phil “Godfather” Goff

The Auckland Mayor has been compared with a mafia boss for the way he managed to get the hotel tax passed last week. It is terrible policy, comparable to the Australian Government’s Budget Day raid on the country’s banks last month. The only principle behind such ad hoc taxes is “does the victim have money?”

ACT’s Solution

ACT acknowledges that councils have a revenue problem. For every dollar that councils spend, central government spends nine. The shortage of infrastructure funding is feeding the housing shortage, not to mention the congestion disaster. There needs to be a non-politicised way of getting revenue to councils that creates the right incentives. ACT, of course, supports giving councils half the GST on construction they consent. If you have ever faced delays getting resource consent, imagine if the council was offered 7.5 per cent of the construction cost.

Phil’s at it Again

Now Phil has leaked that the Government will announce road pricing in Auckland. Free Press hopes this is true. The congestion problem is dire, it is the biggest issue that people bring up with us on the door step. People with mobile jobs required to visit multiple addresses are reporting massive productivity costs. They used to visit five locations but now they can only visit three. Better technology and accurate road pricing are a critical part of the answer.

About Time

Airlines, hotels, and the produce section of supermarkets all vary their prices to manage demand. The policy of taxing road use through petrol taxes is like saying that if you buy jet fuel you can fly anywhere you like at any time. The result would be chaos and that’s what happens on Auckland and, increasingly, Wellington and Christchurch roads twice a day.

Some Conditions

Proper road pricing should not be a cash grab. Revenues raised should be offset by reductions in petrol tax. The revenues should be used to build and maintain roads, people making one choice should not be forced to subsidise another. Road pricing should be world leading and comprehensive, it should involve GPS tracking of all roads so it doesn’t just move bottle necks around.  Most importantly, it should be done within the next parliamentary term, not a plan to do something in ten years as Simon Bridges has previously mused.

Incidentally

MP for Epsom David Seymour is hosting a public meeting on June 12 at 7:30 at the Somervell Church in Remuera. Three guest speakers from Transport Blog, the AA, and Uber will tackle congestion from their respective angles.