Toll road agency tries to stall fee dodger

By Mathew Dearnaley

Auckland's Northern Gateway toll road. Photo / Dean Purcell
Auckland's Northern Gateway toll road. Photo / Dean Purcell

The NZ Transport Agency is trying to avoid having to defend the validity of its Northern Gateway motorway tolling scheme in its prosecution of a fee-dodger.

It told the High Court at Auckland through its lawyer this week a judicial review would be a more appropriate vehicle for Waiwera resident Hans Grueber to challenge the scheme, rather than through an appeal against a District Court conviction.

Dr Grueber is seeking the disclosure of information the agency relied on in setting up the scheme in 2009 to support his appeal against conviction on four charges of evading tolls, for which he has been fined $160 plus ordered to pay $583 in costs.

He told Justice Patricia Courtney that a consultation process on which the Transport Agency relied for obtaining an Order-in-Council for the toll road between Orewa and Puhoi was flawed by incorrect information provided to a community unaffected by the scheme.

He said that after failing to gain a required high degree of support from the scheme through public submissions, "some bright spark" came up with the idea of surveying the only community likely to support tolls - residents of Whangaparaoa hoping for a separate tolled bridge to be built across the Weiti River.

But Crown lawyer Karen Chang warned Justice Courtney that if she accepted jurisdiction over Dr Grueber's challenge to the Order-in-Council, there could be an impact on every toll charged by the Transport Agency since the road opened.

The judge reserved her decision.

- NZ Herald

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