It's an insult for the National Party to offer regional families their roading upgrades as an election bribe funded by the asset sales slush fund, when investing in the local roading network should come out of operational budgets as part of the normal process of prioritising transport investment, the Green Party said today.
The Government has today announced a $212 million investment in 14 regional roading projects, funded through the Government's Future Investment Fund, which holds the proceeds from the sale of state-owned assets.
"This Government is using John Key's asset sales slush fund to pay for an election bribe for the regions," said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.
"Investment in transport should be made through a rational assessment of transport priorities, but this Government has let their obsession with their pet 'Roads of National Significance' (RONS) projects leave regional roads underfunded.
"National has been underfunding local roading in favour of a handful of uneconomic highway projects, leaving local councils to take on more debt to try and deal with the problem.
"National's obsession with the RONS projects has come at the cost of under-investment in local roads and public transport.
"Now the Government has the gall to use the money from selling New Zealanders' assets to bribe the regions with much needed investment in local roads.
"They should have been a priority from the start.
"It's a bit of an insult to the people in the regions to tell them that their regional transport improvements will only be funded as an election bribe out of the asset sale slush fund, rather than paying for them out of the normal operating budget as used to be the case.
"Too bad for those regions that also have desperate transport needs but which Key isn't blessing with cash as part of an election year bribe. It is classic pork barrelling.
"The Green Party would invest the transport budget where it is needed - in maintaining local roads and improving public transport", said Dr Norman.