Saturday, May 25, 2024

MP: We’re being fleeced at petrol pump by Govt

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The price of fuel continues to climb at gas stations across Auckland. Times photo Wayne Martin

Aucklanders will be angered to learn that despite paying over half a billion dollars in Regional Fuel Tax (RFT), less than half of that money has actually been spent on transport projects in our city, National’s Transport spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“Despite $515 million being raised by the petrol tax, only $230m has actually been spent on transport projects, showing what a sham this tax was right from the start,” Brown said in a media release.

“Aucklanders were told by the Government and Mayor [Phil] Goff that this tax was desperately needed to fund projects which would help ease the congestion Aucklanders battle each and every day.

“Instead, the tax revenue is simply being hoarded for projects which might be delivered some time in the distant future.

“With a failed $51m attempt to build an overwhelmingly unpopular Auckland cycle bridge, four years of non-delivery on the Auckland light rail project and cancelled roads like the Mill Road and East-West Link projects, Aucklanders will be scratching their heads as to why they’re paying this tax when nothing is being done to improve our transport network.

“The Regional Fuel Tax should be scrapped given the revenue isn’t being used. This will also benefit Aucklanders who are hurting from the cost of rapidly-increasing fuel prices and high inflation.

“Auckland Council and the Government should be funding projects which are actually going to be delivered, rather than constantly dreaming up new ways to take money out of the hands of taxpayers and motorists.”

Meanwhile Transport Minister Michael Wood told the Times it was disappointing that Brown would rather make political attacks rather than acknowledge the hard work of our construction sector and the jobs created to support the area’s economic recovery.

“Simeon Brown knows that the regional fuel tax has meant important projects like the Eastern Busway could get started in our previous term in government. He was even at the opening of the Panmure to Pakuranga section at the end of last year, which is benefiting his constituents and would not have been built under National,” Wood said.

“It’s also important to point out that as more RFT projects come into the construction phase, more revenue will be spent. When you’re collecting revenue for projects at a steady rate but your costs start small, then rise, you naturally have a surplus in the first few years to pay for later years.

“On the radio the other day (National Party MP) Mark Mitchell also said that National would reduce fuel excise levy. National is saying they would reduce transport funding on one hand, but indicating they will build many new large motorway projects. It just doesn’t add up.”

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