Rust never sleeps and neither does corporate New Zealand’s lust for community assets. There are megabucks of unearned, untaxed wealth to be had by the 1% who want an even bigger share of our national income.
And so it is with Minister of Transport Gerry Brownlee’s rejection of fuel taxes, road tolls or congestion charging to make up the $12 billion shortfall for the big roading projects the government wants Auckland to fund for their mates in the tarseal lobby over the next 30 years.
On the one hand Brownlee wants to be seen to side with the people of Auckland against the council’s unpopular new taxes and put Auckland voters in a better frame of mind towards National at next year’s election.
But on the other hand Brownlee has his eye on Auckland’s assets.
If National wins a third term next year the government will push hard for the council to agree to sell the Ports of Auckland and the Council’s shares in Auckland Airport to fund these projects.
Auckland’s big business reps will chime in and Aucklanders will be heavily pressured to sell council assets if the city wants to fund the inner city rail link as the government withholds legislation to allow for the collection of road tolls or congestion charges.
Brownlee has used the same tactic in Christchurch where he relentlessly pressured the Christchurch City Council to privatise its assets to help pay for the Christchurch rebuild. The CCC resisted that pressure and Aucklanders must do the same.
Just as importantly though, Auckland doesn’t need road tolls or congestion charges anyway because building more roads will NOT reduce traffic congestion in Auckland. Nowhere in the world has any city been able to tarseal its way out of gridlock.
In the mayoral election campaign I’m proposing an end traffic chaos in Auckland within 12 months at less than half the cost of Brownlee’s roads. We will do this using free and frequent public transport to all parts of the city’s urban area.
Mana’s proposal will release $1.25 billion per year in extra productivity lost through traffic congestion as well as stimulating the economy with the money saved by people using free public transport.
Instead of a lose-lose scenario (more expensive roads and no end to gridlock) I’m proposing a win-win option (less than half the cost and ending gridlock within 12 months)
And of course it’s a much more environmentally friendly way to go.
I hope Aucklanders will give Brownlee the fingers and adopt free-public transport as the sanest, most intelligent way to solve Auckland’s traffic gridlock.