South Islanders will pay for light rail

Fri, 28 Jan, 2022

“New Zealanders from the Waikato to Southland will be paying for Auckland light rail”, says ACT Transport spokesperson Simon Court.

“Finance Minister Grant Robertson this morning confirmed that the Government would be borrowing more to fund Labour’s pet project.

“That means all New Zealanders – not just Aucklanders – will be on the hook for light rail.

“Although the focus was on a value capture tax on property owners, that will only raise between $2 and $3 billion of the $14.6 billion needed.

“As the Government’s Cabinet paper points out:

‘It is clear that a significant proportion of the capital costs associated with the project will be paid for by the Crown.’

“That will mean higher petrol taxes or more debt paid for by all New Zealanders and future generations.

“New Zealanders will be questioning the regional balance. It isn’t good enough to allow billions to be raised from other regions to pay for a single project in Auckland.

“Even worse, four years after Jacinda Ardern’s election promise, the Government still doesn’t know who will pay and in what proportions.

“An increase in Auckland rates, business rates, development contributions, land acquisition are all being considered, but:

‘Whilst this has provided an indication of the potential funding tools that could be used, further analysis is needed to better understand the affordability and viability of different mechanisms, and the contributions these could make.’

“Altogether, the light rail saga is proof we need to get politicians out of transport and infrastructure decision-making to get better long-term outcomes.

“Politicians – left and right – have chosen where to build roads, bridges, and railway lines, based on political advantage rather than economic need, and changes of government every three years bring uncertainty and the risk that decisions will be reversed.

“The light rail process to date has been a disaster. We've spent four years trying to figure out how to make a political promise from Jacinda Ardern work. In the meantime, we've seen billions of dollars moved away from road building, projects cancelled, rescoped and deferred, fuel taxes increased, and regions neglected. New Zealanders deserve better.”