NZ First leader Winston Peters is laying claims of agreements made behind closed doors that will see the Government cement tolls on Route K prior to the election.
As part of a fleeting visit to Tauranga today Winston outlined to about 100 people at Mount Maunganui’s Phoenix car park the “significant” disclosure which comes less than a week after the decision to wipe the $63million Route K debt from Tauranga City Council’s books.
Winston Peters and NZ First Tauranga candidate Clayton Mitchell at the Phoenix car park.
From June 2015, all but $1m of the debt will be transferred to the New Zealand Transport Agency.
Winston claims a report outlined in next week’s Regional Transport Committee meeting shows Cabinet is to consider approving an Order in Council for Route K tolls under the Land Transport Management Act on September 1.
The report states Cabinet will put a recommendation to the Governor-General to approve the road tolling scheme prior to the election.
It also states NZTA is seeking to secure "commercial terms" on the planned Route K tolls gantry and tolling equipment by mid-September.
“In short, instead of putting this city and its voting needs first, they are going to put you in a situation before the election to ensure that you have to honour a contract that they are going to sign before the election,” says Winston.
“Right under your nose are people and organisations playing petty politics. Playing the game of secrecy behind closed doors and affecting what the French call a ‘fait accompli’ about which you can do nothing.”
Winston says since himself and Tauranga candidate Clayton Mitchell vowed to remove the debt and tolls earlier this month, things have been moving very fast.
“The meeting with council was important because after five and a half years of central government inertia and every excuse in the book, for not doing anything all of a sudden last Monday things went from being glacial to being like lightning.”
He says his party’s pledge remains the same since the latest announcements – get rid of the tolls and the debt.
If NZ First ends up in post-election negotiations to form a new coalition government, Winston has pledged to meet the $50 million costs to four-lane Turret Rd and 15th Ave.
As part of his pre-election push Winston also spoke at an open meeting at Bob Owens Retirement Village, for village residents and public today.
The general election is on September 20. New poll results released today show NZ First polls just under the 5 per cent threshold at 4.3 per cent, dipping from 4.6 in June. It would not be returned to Parliament on this result.