Farmers hit the motorway protesting Labour’s Ute Tax

Video by Times photographer Wayne Martin

Auckland farmers took their protests against the Labour Government’s Ute Tax public this morning with tractors, utes and other support vehicles taking to the motorway.

National MPs joined the farmer protest around the country to “send a strong signal to the Government that their parliamentary majority is not a mandate for Labour to promote their ideological wish list”.

Labour is targeting double-cab ute owners who pay reduced fringe benefit tax (FBT), designed to ensure employees fork out tax on their work perks, like using a work car for personal use.

Labour has cited its climate-change policies and the “proliferation” of the utes as the reason behind the Ute Tax.

The Ute Tax follows Labour announcing its feebates scheme which would involve charging fees on high-emissions vehicles to pay for discounts on low-emissions vehicles.

Meanwhile Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says, “Labour is taxing hard working Kiwis who don’t have the luxury of being able to use an electric vehicle. It will penalise tradesmen who are desperately needed to build the thousands of houses that Labour has failed to deliver, and it will penalise farmers who got the economy through the Covid-19 lockdown.

“Kiwis can’t tow their caravans or boats with a Nissan Leaf – they have been left out of this decision and must demand the debate.

“We have a Government with its priorities out of order. Its given $2.75 million to the Mongrel Mob for their meth programme and at the same time it continues to take money out of the pockets of hard working Kiwis.

“National MPs will be joining the farmer protest this Friday around the country to send a strong signal to the Government that their parliamentary majority is not a mandate for Labour to promote their ideological wish list.”

Collins last month said the “uncomfortable truth” for the Prime Minister is that when her Government proposed its car tax back in 2019, Kiwis overwhelmingly rejected it.

Public consultation figures supplied to National at the time by then Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter revealed 1860 of 2687 submissions were opposed to the car tax.

Treasury also warned it would unfairly punish New Zealanders for whom low-emission vehicles do not yet exist to suit their jobs or their lifestyle, Collins says.

“It’s not fair to make farmers, tradies and large families pay more for their cars when they don’t have any other option, just so wealthy executives can get a discount on a Tesla.

“It’s also not fair to force a car tax on New Zealanders without letting them have a voice, particularly after Labour promised them no surprise taxes after the election.

“National believes there are better ways we can encourage the uptake of electric vehicles. At the last election we supported moves to exempt EVs from fringe benefit tax, extend road user charge exemptions, allow EV users access to bus lanes and free parking, and provide more funding for development of low-emission technologies.”