Harbour Crossing in jeopardy if fuel tax axed
Next Harbour Crossing could be threatened if fuel tax axed
North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams warns that if the proposed Auckland regional fuel tax is axed this could threaten the next Waitemata Harbour crossing between North Shore City and Auckland.
“The fuel tax is being introduced to help fund the much needed upgrade and electrification of the Auckland rail network, which I expect will be extended to the North Shore within the next 15 – 20 years.”
“If we take our foot off the pedal now and do not have this steady stream of guaranteed funding during these important years for Auckland, we probably will not see electric trains serving the people of Auckland for a very long time. It will also cast a shadow over plans that are already underway to extend tunnels under the harbour to eventually take the rail network into North Shore City.”
“Auckland councils have been working on this for a very long time, and the fairly minimal fuel tax was seen by the majority in this region as a positive way forward to help fund this important transport infrastructure. Ferry terminals are also to be funded from the fuel tax to get more people onto the ferry network, using Auckland’s biggest underutilised motorway – the Waitemata Harbour”.
“I am very surprised that the Minister of Transport Steven Joyce has not discussed this with North Shore City, or with the Mayors and Councils in the Auckland region, as this is a critically important subject for us all. We have been calling for years to get more funding for vitally needed transport upgrades around Auckland, and just when it is all rolling out to plan, he is suggesting that the rug should be pulled out from under all this good work.”
“At the end of the day, everyone knows that petrol prices have been up and down like a yo-yo They have soared up to about $2.20 per litre and down to about $1.30 in this past 12 months, with people often living with weekly changes of 10 cents or more. A stable 5 to 10 cent fuel tax is therefore really neither here nor there in terms of a tankful of petrol. Another $2.50 - $5.00 per tank. But the cumulative amount from across the region means a huge amount for the funding of the public transport network for the people of Auckland, and relieving region-wide congestion.”
“We are also seeing a reduced amount of funding for infrastructure from Auckland Regional Holdings, a part of the Auckland Regional Council, due to its lower returns from the likes of its Ports of Auckland shareholdings. So the Transport Minister needs to be very mindful of this, and all the pressures on Treasury at present to reduce increasingly sizeable government deficits. Taking away this planned fuel tax will only make it that more difficult for the government to fund the important infrastructure required by Auckland. This is not the time to be cancelling an important source of funding that will have long-reaching positive effects on transport across the Auckland region – the powerhouse of the New Zealand economy”
“The Transport Minister certainly needs to announce a very sound alternative funding source for the future needs of Auckland’s transport before axing this fuel tax”.