National Party sets fire on Regional Fuel Tax

But no one is telling us of an alternative

Venkat Raman

A proposal to impose a regional fuel tax that may cost Aucklanders about ten cents a litre has become, alas, a political football, rather than a healthy discussion as to what the other alternatives are to improve the transport situation in the country’s largest City.

Ten Years, $28 billion

Unveiling their plan to improve the transport network that would cover road and rail network over the next ten years on April 26, 2018, Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff announced a massive investment of $28 billion to be incurred between 2018 and 2028, built into which is the fuel tax.

The Colmar Brunton Survey conducted independently to achieve a representative outcome from a cross-section of Aucklanders showed that 52% in support of a Regional Fuel Tax, while consultation responses show 46% in favour.

National to overturn

National Party Leader Simon Bridges told a meeting this morning (Monday, April 30, 2018) that if re-elected, his government will overturn the government’s Regional Fuel Tax and leave more money in the ‘back pockets of hard-working New Zealand families.’

“Regional fuel taxes are unfair on New Zealanders. They are regressive and hit poorer New Zealanders the hardest. The fuel taxes the Government has announced will leave a typical Auckland family around $700 a year out of pocket,” he said.

Keeping promises

Mr Bridges should be careful not to make promises that cannot be kept. His own Party has been a culprit.

“Governments must manage the economy and its spending in a way that ensures hard work is rewarded and taxpayer money is not wasted by a lack of planning and bad spending decisions. Regional fuel taxes violate that principle. They impose more costs on families, while letting Councils off the hook for expenditure they should already be prioritising,” he said.

Alternatives please

We are not holding brief for the Labour-led government but as Aucklanders, we suffer severe traffic congestion every day of the week, including weekends.

As Mayor Goff has said, about 800 new vehicles enter Auckland’s roads every week and with a poor network, commuters spend more time on the road than ever.

The traffic gridlock is not an issue that surfaced in the past six months. It has been an issue since long and National had all the time in the world to fix it during their nine-year rule.

Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross would know the uphill task that he had in getting a nod for this East-West Link Project. In fact, he had submitted a proposal to Mr Bridges when he was Transport Minister not too long ago.

No one likes to pay additional taxes, but no one seems to say how we can have extra roads, wider motorways and better public transport including road and rail network.

Many years ago, there were proposals for imposing toll fees for Auckland- $5 for each entry – but the proposal was shot down.

Mr Bridges should spell his policy of solving the traffic problem without imposing any fuel tax. If the answer is private ownership of these projects, then the burden would be passed on to Aucklanders anyway.

If there a free lunch?

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Photo Caption:

  1. Simon Bridges (File Photo)
  2. Auckland must pay 10 cents more per litre

(RNZ Picture under Special Arrangement)

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