Xmas Grinch hikes petrol prices: Labour

Higher petrol prices and increased road user charges are miserable Christmas presents for motorists, Labour leader David Shearer says.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee on Tuesday announced petrol excise duty will rise by three cents a litre on July 1 in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and road user charges will increase "by an equivalent amount".

He says the increases are needed to deliver the government's roads of national significance programme.

The government is determined to balance the budget in 2014/15 and will do anything to achieve its goal.

"It is forecasting it will get there with a razor-thin margin of just $66 million by cutting jobs, selling assets and raising prices at the petrol pumps," he said.

The Green Party's transport spokeswoman, Julie Anne Genter, says the government is raising petrol excise duty by 18 per cent to unfairly make working families pay for motorways they aren't going to use.

"All Kiwis who drive will soon by paying for National's white elephant motorways that few people will use," she said.

"Analysis of the motorway projects show just four per cent of journeys will use these routes."

Mr Brownlee says the guaranteed funding increases will enable the NZ Transport Agency to begin new projects in the 2013/14 financial year:

  •     Puhoi to Wellsford "holiday highway"

  •     Rangiriri and Tamahere-Cambridge sections of the Waikato Expressway

  •     Mackays to Peka Peka section of the Wellington Northern Corridor

  •     and making four lanes of the Groynes to Sawyers Arms section of the Western Corridor in Christchurch.

The government is also considering tolling Transmission Gully, or a public-private partnership to build it.

The announcement comes a day after the Green Party unveiled a plan to build a second fibre cable linking New Zealand to Australia and the US, which it says would cost 0.8 per cent of the $12 billion the government is spending on new motorways.

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