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Regional fuel taxes will benefit all road users

Regional fuel taxes will benefit all road users, says Annette King

The Government's proposal to enable regional fuel taxes will benefit all road users, not just private vehicle owners and public transport commuters, says Transport Minister Annette King.

Ms King says that since last Thursday's Budget Road Transport Forum New Zealand and the forestry industry have suggested their industries have been penalised by the proposal to enable such a tax in Auckland.

"By enabling a regional fuel tax for both petrol and diesel users, we can ensure all road users contribute to the construction of new roading and public transport infrastructure to support our transport vision.

"Contrary to statements by the sector groups concerned that commercial road users will be adversely impacted through a diesel tax, diesel users are not being targeted. They are being asked to pay their share of the cost of improving regional transport networks that benefit both commuters and commercial users." Ms King says all road users will benefit from some people choosing to use public transport instead of their cars. "Treasury and Ministry of Transport analysis shows that a 2-3 percent increase in public transport mode share results in a 6-8 percent reduction in congested vehicle kilometres travelled. That means real time savings for motorists and commercial drivers. That has to be good for trucks in particular, and overseas studies show that this type of mode shift can result in productivity gains of 2 to 10 percent."

Ms King says that improving New Zealand's transport infrastructure and public transport system is vital to achieving one of this Government's key goals of economic transformation. "To do that, we need to ensure that road construction and public transport projects that cannot be funded out of the National Land Transport Fund, but tagged by regions as high priority, can proceed.

"Diesel vehicles account for 18 percent of our vehicle fleet and 24 percent of kilometres travelled. I do not think it is fair to ask petrol users to exclusively pay for additional roads and public transport when diesel users will also benefit from these measures. Furthermore, an increasing number of private motor vehicles are diesel powered. To not charge diesel users would mean petrol users are subsidising diesel users."

Ms King said commercial transport operators who used their diesel off road would have their regional fuel tax refunded. "Land Transport New Zealand already operates an effective refund system for commercial non-road petrol users such as lawn mowing contractors, and we will expand this system to enable farmers and other off-road users to claim refunds. To keep administration and compliance costs low for commercial users a threshold will apply.

"Further, the regional fuel tax will not just pay for public transport. The Government has indicated its intention to use some of the fuel tax to contribute to the cost of roading, including the Western Ring Route and Penlink. The Western Ring Route in particular will provide benefits that impact on the entire Auckland network for motorists, including trucking firms," Ms King said.

"The Government wants to see transport networks in Auckland, as well as the rest of the country, that are not only environmentally sustainable, but also socially and economically sustainable."

ENDS

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