Last week, Auckland Council voted 13-7 to keep pressing forward in their attempt to impose a new regional fuel tax on Auckland.
National has consistently opposed regional fuel taxes in Auckland since we repealed a previous attempt to impose them in 2009. The primary reason for this is because we believe that adding 11.5 cents to the price of fuel imposes an unnecessary burden on Auckland families.
In Government, National didn’t need to impose new regional fuel taxes in order to fund transport. We managed to harness the dividends of a growing economy and apply sound fiscal discipline to transport investment which meant that projects could be funded without imposing new costs.
That approach allowed us to fund projects such as the AMETI Eastern Busway in partnership with Auckland Council without requiring new taxes on Aucklanders. This is a project that will provide huge benefits in connecting our community with a public transport corridor. We should not be attempting to erode the benefits we gain by raising taxes at the same time.
So how would National fund key transport projects such as the AMETI Busway in Auckland without resorting to new taxes?
The first place to start is to look at the ability of Auckland Council to find savings in its own budget. The regional fuel tax is projected to raise $150 million. For the Council to raise that, they would only need to find 4 per cent in savings from their budget. To put that in context, Mayor Goff promised to find between 3-6 per cent of savings when he was elected. If the Council could follow through with this promise, a regional fuel tax would not be needed.
National was also able to fund a record $32 billion infrastructure package in Budget 2017 because of the growing economy. That package would have allowed us to continue putting large investment into public transport and into key roading projects like AMETI, the East-West Link and Mill Road.
This all goes to show that regional fuel taxes are not needed. They will impose a large economic cost on the regions in which they are imposed and there are other ways to ensure projects get completed without resorting to new taxes.
Jami-Lee Ross, MP for Botany