$300m 'sitting in an account' bridge from Auckland fuel tax to congestion charging, Luxon says
National leader Christopher Luxon says "$300 million sitting in an account" can be a bridge for funding Auckland infrastructure projects once the regional fuel tax is removed, and before congestion charging comes into force.
He was asked about Auckland's finances while talking to reporters on Tuesday. The questions came after Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown had appeared on morning news shows on Tuesday. Brown warned Auckland rates would need to rise 7% if the regional fuel tax was removed, as National plans, and not replaced.
That money was being relied on for projects such as the Eastern Busway and improvements to Lincoln Rd, and buses from Botany to the airport, Brown said.
Luxon said there were a number of issues in Auckland that a National-led government would work through in a constructive way.
There was still $300 million in the account for the Eastern Busway "that can be used to continue that project" until income was available from congestion charging, Luxon said.
"We will have that conversation with the council, on the other side of the election, to make sure that is managed well."
In May, National's transport spokesperson Simeon Brown put out a statment saying more than $327 million collected by the Auckland fuel tax was "sitting idle in the Government’s bank account".
Questioned by reporters on Tuesday, Luxon said National thought the way was to bridge from the Auckland regional fuel tax into congestion charging, "and in the intervening period there's $300 million sitting in an account".
Asked if the Government would "open the cheque book" if the money was needed for Auckland, Luxon said, "we will work our way through the different challenges that Auckland has".