On Agenda on Sunday, National’s Transport spokesperson, Maurice Williamson, said National would impose tolls on major new road projects – Transmission Gully, Waterview etc – and on the Harbour Bridge if a tolled second crossing of the harbour is built. Williamson said a typical person using those toll roads for commuting would spend about $50 a week but he thinks people would be happy to pay it. He also said these toll roads and other projects (including schools, hospitals, and prisons) could be built as Public-Private Partnerships, effectively a form of borrowing where the private company puts the money up front and gets profit for decades. Williamson wants the legislation changed so private investors can make profit off these public assets for ’50-60′ years, rather than the legislated limit of 35 years.
Today on Nine to Noon , Bill English called his wannabe infrastructure minister ‘exurberant’. Refusing to give any details, English says the cost will not be $50 a week, more like $20. Where the extra money would come from the pay for these PPPs, English can’t say.
Is it an acceptable situation when we can’t take the words of a National spokesperson as correct statements of National policy? Should we have to go and check with English and Key each time, except when they get it wrong?
And which Nat do you believe? The one speaking frankly and offering detail, even if it is politically unpalpable, or the one trying to minimise political damage and offering vague promises?