Highway tolls looked like a Shaw thing, in the light of grim climate change report, but Wood was listening to the community

A toll, we imagined, might be introduced to discourage unnecessary motoring and reduce emissions on the new Ara Tūhono – Puhoi to Warkworth motorway north of Auckland.  And this, we supposed, would gel with the government’s aim of creating a carbon-neutral New Zealand.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – authored by thousands of scientists and reviewers from more than 100 countries, including New Zealand – provides a grim warning of the risk facing our children, our planet, and future generations, unless urgent action is taken.

It prompted a press statement from Climate Change Minister James Shaw in which he called for a collective effort involving every sector of the economy, every community, and almost every government agency and their Minister to avert a climate crisis.

But Transport Minister Michael Wood issued a statement, too, to say the new Ara Tūhono – Puhoi to Warkworth motorway will not be tolled when it opens next year.

This – it seems – was his decision, based on strong community opposition (who would have believed it?) to the idea of a toll:

Other Ministers have announced:

  • The Government is introducing a bill to amend the fee setting powers for the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • COVID-19 vaccine bookings for New Zealanders aged 50-plus are being brought forward to Friday 13 August, earlier than planned.
  • New Zealand’s COVID-19 vaccinator workforce has been enlarged.
  • The Queen has heaped a few more gongs on Dame Cindy Kiro, Governor-General Designate

As we noted above, Transport Minister Michael Wood is taking the credit for keeping the new highway toll-free.

Michael Wood said after careful consideration he had declined a tolling proposal submitted by Waka Kotahi.

“As is the case with all new sections of state highway, Waka Kotahi assessed the potential for tolling the Ara Tūhono – Puhoi to Warkworth motorway. This included consultation last year to gather feedback from the public and key stakeholder groups.

“There was strong community opposition, with 80 per cent of the affected community opposing a toll. I’ve listened and this was a factor that led me to decline the proposal.”

Consulting the community about the acceptability of a toll was bound to get much the same response (a palpable lack of enthusiasm) as the Ministers of Finance and of Revenue would get if they consulted the community about the acceptability of increasing income taxes.

But there were other considerations:

“Another was commuters could be forced to pay two tolls given the Northern Gateway is already tolled between Silverdale and Orewa, and especially since there is also no southbound exit from the road before the Northern Gateway.

“Tolling is a useful tool that can help fund the construction and maintenance of new roads or significant upgrades to existing roads, so it warrants investigating – but it’s important there are adequate alternatives for drivers,” Michael Wood said.

Latest from the Beehive

Covid-19 vaccine 

COVID-19 vaccinator workforce tracking well for peak of rollout 

New Zealand’s COVID-19 vaccinator workforce continues to expand with more than 10,000 people having now completed Pfizer vaccine training, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says.

His figures show 10,497 vaccinators have worked through the vaccinator training course, 5114 of whom have been active in the vaccinator workforce since February.

Roads

Govt not charging ahead on Puhoi to Warkworth motorway toll

The new Ara Tūhono – Puhoi to Warkworth motorway north of Auckland will not be tolled when it opens next year, Transport Minister Michael Wood announced.

The new road will extend the four-lane Northern Motorway (SH1) by 18.5km, from the Johnstone’s Hill tunnels to just north of Warkworth.

All of the documentation about the assessment for tolling Ara Tūhono – Pūhoi to Warkworth including the proposal and the public consultation report are available on the Waka Kotahi website.

Climate warming

Govt will be equal to latest climate science

A collective effort involving every sector of the economy, every community, and almost every government agency and their Minister will be needed to avert a climate crisis, the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw, said today in response to the release of the latest scientific evidence on global climate change, its impacts and future risks.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the world’s leading authority on climate science. Its latest report released today has been authored by thousands of scientists and reviewers from more than 100 countries, including New Zealand. The findings provide the starkest warning yet of the risk facing our children, our planet, and future generations, unless urgent action is taken.

“The findings of the IPCC reaffirm those of the Climate Change Commission and confirm why this Government is right to prioritise climate action,” James Shaw said. 

Since its establishment in 1988, the IPCC has released five Assessment Reports, each of which updates the established science on climate change. Today’s report is the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment report.

Teaching 

Law change to provide certainty for teachers, Teaching Council

The Government is introducing a bill to amend the fee-setting powers for the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand following a ruling from the High Court about the limits of those powers.

The Education and Training (Teaching Council Fees) Amendment Bill clarifies the scope of the fees the Council can charge for registration and practicing certificates for early childhood, primary, and secondary school teachers.

The Council is expected to operate on a fully self-funded basis, but is only explicitly authorised under the Education and Training Act 2020 to recover some of its costs through the fees it charges teachers. The amendment corrects this technical error.

The Bill also supports the financial sustainability of the Council by:

  • allowing the Council to retain fees received from 1 February 2021, and to use them as part-payment towards the previous (now current) fees,
  • validating any decisions the Council, or its predecessor organisations took prior to 2020 in setting fees,
  • enabling the Council to charge a fee, and require payment, in instalments, and
  • allowing the Council to recover debts for unpaid fees.

Information about the Teaching Council can be found at https://teachingcouncil.nz/.

Covid-19 vaccine 

Vaccine bookings brought forward for New Zealanders aged 50-plus

Following strong uptake from the 60-plus and 55-plus age groups, COVID-19 vaccine bookings for New Zealanders aged 50-plus are being brought forward to Friday 13 August, earlier than planned, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said.

There are about 300,000 people in the 50-plus age group.

Eligible people in the 50-plus group can make their own booking from Friday 13 August at 8am by visiting bookmyvaccine.covid19.health.nz, or by calling the 0800 28 29 26 COVID Vaccination Healthline (8am-8pm, seven days a week).

Honours

New honours for Governor-General Designate

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that The Queen has approved the appointment of Dame Cindy Kiro, Governor-General Designate, as an Additional Dame Grand Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and as an Additional Companion of the Queen’s Service Order.

These appointments are an important formal step in the process of Dame Cindy’s becoming the next Governor-General, Ardern said.

Dame Cindy Kiro was announced as Governor-General Designate on 24 May 2021, and will be sworn in as Governor-General on 21 October.

One thought on “Highway tolls looked like a Shaw thing, in the light of grim climate change report, but Wood was listening to the community

  1. “….COVID-19 vaccine bookings for New Zealanders aged 50-plus are being brought forward to Friday 13 August, earlier than planned…..”. I would suggest that this is partly due to a growing realisation among the public that the “safety” and “efficacy” of so-called “vaccine” has not been proven and they have an excess of “vaccine” that will expire if not used.

    Liked by 1 person

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