Labour unveils motorway truck ban plan

David Cunliffe.
David Cunliffe.
A Labour government would ban trucks from fast lanes on the motorway and cut fees for light trailers, caravans and motorhomes, leader David Cunliffe said this morning.

"Kiwis are sweating the small stuff too much" and Labour's transport policies would make driving easier during public holidays, Mr Cunliffe said.

"There's nothing Kiwis like more than getting on the road and going on holiday. But on public holidays like Easter and Anzac Weekend fun can quickly turn to frustration when the family realises the rego for the caravan has expired or there's a big truck hogging the fast lane," he said.

Under the transport proposals, trucks would not be able to drive in the fast lane in three or four-lane motorways. The move was designed to reduce congestion because trucks had a lower speed limit of 90km/h.

Annual registration charges for light trailers and caravans - around $35 - would be scrapped.

Labour's policy document said that the levy was "a money grab" and it generated a "huge amount of hassle" for 600,000 trailer or caravan owners each year.

The party would also reduce road user charges for motorhomes and caravans. The new cost would reflect a vehicle's actual impact on the road instead of charging according to its maximum allowable weight.

Labour deputy leader David Parker admitted that the policies were small but said "little things were important too".

"You ask the 1.5 million people in Auckland and they will say it annoys them that at times the fast lane is blocked by trucks that are only meant to be doing 90km/h.

"And ... why should people pay a registration fee for a trailer that's always attached to a car? We don't take ACC levies in that situation."

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said that the policies were "poorly thought through" and "a joke".

"Someone's having us on. It can't be real. It cannot be their transport policy."

Government had already signalled that road user charges needed to increase if the Roads of National Significance and other projects were to be completed.

Mr Brownlee said: "All the money that comes off the roads gets spent on the roads. So if he's not going to have that money, we assume that he's actually cutting the $12 billion programme that we're running at present."

Labour said its cut to road user charges would require reprioritisation within the National Land Transport Fund because it would reduce revenue by between $2 million and $5 million a year.

The cut in registration fees would reduce revenue by $17 million. Labour estimated that the change would save trailer and caravan owners $21 million, "as well as countless hours and hassle".

Asked about Labour's ban on trucks, Mr Brownlee said all trucks on New Zealand roads had to display toll-free phone numbers which motorists could call to make complaints.

- Isaac Davison of the New Zealand Herald

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