Auckland’s fuel tax – should it stay or should it go?
Posted at 4:07pm Tuesday 04 Aug, 2020
Local election candidates are strongly divided on whether Auckland's Regional Fuel Tax (RFT) should remain.
Recently National Party leader Judith Collins promised it would be scrapped if National leads the next Government.
The fuel tax began on July 1, 2018, adding 11.5 cents per litre (including GST) to petrol and diesel and their bio-variants. It supports transport projects that would otherwise be delayed or not funded and was put in place until June 31, 2028.
Among the projects it is funding is work on the Silverdale park and ride, bus network improvements and $66m towards building Penlink.
National MP for Rodney, Mark Mitchell says the country is in the early stages of an economic crisis. “I have spoken to many small business owners and employees and it's clear that the impact Covid has had on our community is significant,” he says. “The last thing that hard working Kiwis should be worried about is paying more at the pump.”
ACT candidate for Whangaparaoa, Paul Grace, says ACT would use congestion charging to price roads. “This would do away with the need for the Regional Fuel Tax. Congestion charging incentivises more efficient use of the road network and, at peak times, the use of public transport alternatives,” he says.
Lorayne Ferguson, Labour's candidate for Whangaparaoa, says the tax should be retained. “The money funds transport projects that Auckland needs and the $1.5 million a year that it contributes would be missed,” she says. “It could be replaced by a congestion charge but that would fall heavily on those who have no choice but to drive during rush hour. We all pay the RFT and that is only fair, as we all benefit from the improvements it helps to fund.”
Whangaparaoa's New Conservative candidate, Fiona Mackenzie, says Aucklanders are paying GST on all government-imposed fuel taxes, including this regional one, so the resulting, exorbitant cost of fuel combined with heavy congestion, compliance costs and processes makes living and doing business in Auckland very expensive.
“Many residents and businesses on the Hibiscus Coast are heavily impacted by this. New Conservative wants to remove tax-on-tax and supports the further reduction of total tax-takes,” she says. “Auckland's congestion-busting transport projects have been held up by inefficient and expensive interpretations of the Resource Management Act (RMA) as well as anti-private transport ideology resulting in public spending on less advantageous projects.
Consequently, New Conservative's focus will be on streamlining existing regulations and ensuring they make sense. To that end, we totally support a clean up of the RMA which will stimulate economic growth and the building of new infrastructure.”
Local election candidates will be fully quizzed in Hibiscus Matters' Election Feature, in September 2 issue.