Transport Minister Phil Twyford introduced legislation yesterday to allow regions to apply for a regional fuel tax, initially for Auckland.
The Government’s programme should allow the bill to come into force before Auckland Council’s next budget takes effect, on 1 July.
Mr Twyford said in a release yesterday: “The Land Transport Management (Regional Fuel Tax) Amendment Bill will enable Auckland Council to seek funding for specific transport-related projects. It would allow funds raised in Auckland to be spent only in Auckland.
“Auckland is at a standstill and the Auckland Council understands the frustration of its ratepayers who are spending hours of their day stuck in traffic.
“Auckland has gone through massive population growth in recent years and its current infrastructure can no longer support the city. Improving infrastructure in Auckland is vital for its businesses & its people for whom just getting to work, school & about their daily activities can be a struggle.
“Solving Auckland’s traffic gridlock is also important for the rest of New Zealand, with congestion in the city between 2015-17 estimated to have cost the economy $1.3 billion/year in lost productivity.
“Under the bill, Auckland Council must first consult with residents on the proposed projects it wishes to fund. It must then obtain Government approval before the regional fuel tax can be implemented.
“The bill will go to a select committee for public submissions. We expect the law to be passed in June, ready for potential implementation in the Auckland region from 1 July.
Goff sees $1.5 billion for transport infrastructure
Auckland mayor Phil Goff said the timing would allow the council to put the fuel tax in place when the 3-year interim transport levy expires: “A fuel tax will provide up to $1.5 billion to invest in critical transport infrastructure in Auckland.
“Aucklanders understand that, with huge population growth and hundreds of extra cars on the road every week, the response of doing nothing simply leads to more congestion & gridlock, and billions of dollars in lost productivity.
“A fuel tax is cheap to administer, contains a user-pays element for road usage and raises twice as much money as the interim transport levy, which expires on 30 June this year.
“It can only be spent on transport infrastructure and people prefer that transparency around its use.
“The equivalent rates increase needed if there were no fuel tax would be an 8-9% rates increase on top of the general rates increase of 2.5% plus any other targeted rate.
“Aucklanders can’t expect other New Zealanders to meet our share of the contribution towards solving our transport problems.
“During the mayoral election campaign, I told every meeting that if people wanted a solution towards stopping greater congestion they would need to contribute towards it. I strongly advocated for a regional fuel tax and said that if people thought they could get something for nothing they should consider voting for someone promising that, but that I did not believe that was honest.
“Council is currently consulting on its 10-year budget and half of public submissions on the regional fuel tax so far received support it.
“Aucklanders will soon get another chance to have their say on how we tackle congestion in Auckland when we consult with residents on the proposed transport projects we want to fund.”
Attribution: Twyford & Goff releases.