Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Auckland Council powerless to stop fuel tax scrapping

Auckland Council appears powerless to stop fuel tax scrapping as southern councillors remain divided

A National government would face few roadblocks in its drive to scrap Auckland's polarising regional fuel tax.

Meanwhile, councillors representing the super city's south are divided over whether to scrap the 11.5 cent per litre tax, something the National Party has promised to deliver should it win next year’s general election. South Auckland is home to communities many claim are hit hardest by the levy.

City bound traffic on the Harbour Bridge approach road, 1966. Photo Mr. Riethmaier via Archives NZ on Flickr

Most Auckland councillors backed the tax in 2018, when it was approved 13 votes to 7, but it appears the governing body is effectively powerless to stop a potential override of its decision.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff on Tuesday indicated the Government could scrap the regional fuel tax (RFT) off its own bat, and without governing body agreement.

“Government has legislative power to do this but would normally consult with council over changes that would affect Aucklanders,” he said.

Scrapping Auckland’s fuel tax, along with associated subsides from the Government, would leave a “$4.3 billion hole” in the super city’s transport budget and bring infrastructure development “to a grinding halt", Goff claimed.

“Anyone who talks about removing this revenue and our ability to borrow for infrastructure against it needs to tell Aucklanders where the money is coming from to replace it, or which major transport projects they would scrap,” the former Labour Party leader added.

When the fuel tax proposal came before Auckland’s governing body in May 2018, most south Auckland-based councillors voted against it.

Daniel Newman and Sir John Walker, both representing Manurewa-Papakura Ward, refused to back the RFT.

Councillor Efeso Collins was vehemently opposed to the levy, voting against it, while his Manukau Ward colleague, Alf Filipaina, voted in favour.

Collins was particularly concerned about its impact on his constituents.

"The issue though is, as a proportion of incomes, it will be the poor who will pay the most,” he said.

Newman on Wednesday said he stood by his opposition and supported the National Party’s plans to remove the RFT.

"I think the fuel tax is a grossly unfair and regressive fuel tax,” he said.

The RFT hurt Auckland’s poorest, who had few alternative transport options, while funding better services for wealthier Aucklanders, who had numerous options, Newman believed.

“It’s a form of tax that applies to people irrespective of their economic circumstances and irrespective of their means of choosing an alternate mode of transport,” he said.

“People in the south have limited transport choice, whereas people in the inner-suburbs have a greater range of transport modes.

“Whereas if you’re living in the outer suburbs of Clendon, and parts of Papakura, there are services that are not yet on the network and if they are the timetable is very intermittent.”

Goff, however, argued the fuel tax was “less regressive” than what it partly replaced – the Interim Transport Levy, which was taken from everyone, including elderly Aucklanders and those who rarely used the region’s transport systems.

There were a range of ways to assist lower income earners, Goff added, such as boosted Government family support packages and Auckland Council initiatives like the living wage, reduced bus fares for children and promotion of public transport fair rebates for low-income citizens using Community Services cards.

Filipaina said he grappled with whether or not to support the tax.

However, he eventually decided the RFT was a better option than increasing rates in his ward.

“For me, it’s around where do we fill that [funding] gap?” Filipaina said.

“That’s really the key thing … because I know our community won’t accept the rates going up.

“If the regional fuel tax does go, how do we fill the funding gap that’s there? Somebody's got to pay at the end of the day.”

As it stands, the RFT would apply through until 2028, with projected revenue pegged at $1.5b over the 10-year period.

A further $3b was expected from sources such as NZTA subsidies.

In 2017, the Automobile Association (AA) said a 10 cent per litre fuel tax would cost an average motorist, driving an average car, $125 per year.

Tack on the extra 1.5 cents the council has approved, and the fuel tax will cost the average motorist about $143.75 a year.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On Why The Supreme Court Is A Bigger Threat Than Trump To US Democracy

If you need a chilling reminder of how weirdly different the United States is to New Zealand…then abortion rights is the place to start. Last Friday, in a case called Hopkins vs Jegley , the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the right of the ... More>>

The Conversation: Rogue Poll Or Not, All The Signs Point To A Tectonic Shift In New Zealand Politics

Richard Shaw AAP(various)/NZ Greens (CC-BY-SA)/The Conversation Strong team. More jobs. Better economy. So say the National Party’s campaign hoardings. Only thing is, last Sunday’s Newshub-Reid Research poll – which had support for the Labour ... More>>

Dunne Speaks: It's Time For Matariki Day

The period of Matariki, the celebration of the Māori New Year, which began earlier this week, is being celebrated increasingly as an important national event. While many other countries have their own form of New Year celebrations, Matariki is uniquely ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Why We Shouldn’t Be Pushed Into Re-Opening Our Borders

I believe in yesterday as much as Paul McCartney, but it was bemusing to see the amount of media attention lavished last week on the pandemic-related musings by former government science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman, former Prime Minister Helen Clark ... More>>

The Coronavirus Republic: Three Million Infections And Rising

The United States is famed for doing things, not to scale, but off it. Size is the be-all and end-all, and the coronavirus is now doing its bit to assure that the country remains unrivalled in the charts of infection . In time, other unfortunates may well ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Altars Of Hypocrisy: George Floyd, Protest And Black Face

Be wary what you protest about. The modern moral constabulary are out, and they are assisted by their Silicon Valley friends in the Social Media club. Should you dare take a stand on anything, especially in a dramatic way, you will be found out ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Welcome Deaths: Coronavirus And The Open Plan Office

For anybody familiar with that gruesome manifestation of the modern work place, namely the open plan office, the advent of coronavirus might be something of a relief. The prospects for infection in such spaces is simply too great. You are at risk from ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Why Thinking Makes It So: Donald Trump’s Obamagate Fixation

The “gate” suffix has been wearing thin since the break-in scandal that gave it its birth. Since Watergate, virtually anything dubious and suggestive, and much more besides, is suffixed. Which brings us to the issue of President Donald Trump’s ... More>>