Divided opinions on regional fuel tax

Dozens of locals say the Auckland Council’s Regional Fuel Tax (RFT) will be detrimental to those in lower income brackets.

A public consultation was held at the Pakuranga Bowling Club on Thursday evening where residents shared their views with Mayor Phil Goff.

Goff said Auckland’s transport and congestion problems are a result of the city’s rapid growth with not enough investment in infrastructure.

The RFT of 10c per litre would generate another $1.3 billion dollars to put into various transport projects over the next 10 years.

He says this would help create improved bus services, build more walkways and cycleways and help improve road safety to give people alternative options to driving.

“It’s not going to cure all, but it is going to help us make public transport a more attractive option for people which will help ease congestion in Auckland,” Goff says.

The biggest concerns of the residents were that the fuel tax would have the most impact on lower income residents.

“People who earn less have less efficient vehicles which use the most petrol, and these are the people who are going to struggle the most with this fuel tax and that’s not fair,” one resident said.

Goff said fuel costs was a relatively minor contributor to struggling members of the community in comparison to rent prices and other bills.

He says Auckland is facing a standstill as infrastructure improvements fail to keep up with the growing population of Auckland and to do nothing would be more detrimental.

“We can’t do nothing because we are a growing city and in no time we will find ourselves completely gridlocked.”

Another resident was not opposed to paying to have Auckland’s transport systems improved but suggested a rates increase was a better way to get the money.

Goff said Auckland council opted out of increasing rates because there is no relationship between rates and how often people use transport systems.

“I am a strong believer in usage fees, so the people who are actually using a service are the ones paying for it.”

He also said by specifying that the 10c regional fuel tax will go towards transport improvements means the money cannot be diverted to any other unrelated projects.