Len’s Auckland taxes

February 13th, 2012 at 9:41 am by David Farrar

After having failed to get the residents of Oamaru, Christchurch, Wellington and Napier to pay for Auckland’s , has proposed half a dozen new taxes as possible ways to pay for the loop.

The proposed taxes include:

  • Regional income – new income paid only by Aucklanders.
  • Regional payroll tax – new income tax paid by Auckland employers.
  • Regional GST – raising GST in Auckland.
  • Regional fuel tax – raising petrol and diesel taxes across Auckland.
  • Visitor taxes – nightly charge for hotel and motel rooms.
How novel to have a Mayor who is a member of the Labour Party propose to increase GST (in Auckland). I don’t recall that one being in the manifesto in 2010.
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89 Responses to “Len’s Auckland taxes”

  1. Spam (586 comments) says:

    And every single one of those will be a compliance nightmare and expensive to administer.
    Eg.
    What happens when an employee working for an auckland-based firm works in another city?
    What happens to GST when a product is made in auckland and sold elsewhere?

    This, along with the ports issue, will be a great way to ensure businesses move to other centers.

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  2. ben (2,386 comments) says:

    This problem is only arising because of the astronomical cost of the rail loop and the fact that the people who ride it pay such a low proportion of its total capital, operating and maintenance costs. The writing is on the wall, Len – read it. Auckland needs more investment in roads. Motorists cover the cost of the roads they drive on through gas taxes and road user charges, and the great majority of folks in Auckland get around by car. Do us all a favour.

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  3. OlderChas (19 comments) says:

    I live in Wellsford – which is just about the northernmost boundary of Auckland City. A majority of residents here bitterly opposed being lumped in as JAFAs – but were forced to become Aucklanders anyway. I will never use the rail loop – ever – so why the hell should I be paying for it? If Len wants his precious train set – get the builder to pay for it then charge fares high enough to pay back the cost from users. (And let’s see how many JAFAs will want the damn train set then huh?)

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  4. redqueen (347 comments) says:

    This is quite typical of the socialist spots of NZ: you propose some silly railway idea (a rail loop for Auckland here, a light rail system for Wellington there) and then realise the cost is astronomical and not a very good investment. People really should stop voting for numpties and actually listen to their proposals, let alone examine their characters, before casting.

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  5. flipper (3,274 comments) says:

    It does not matter how he spins the rail loop BS…. it does NOT look good for Red Len.

    Minister for Local Government, HoReps, February 9, 2012 –

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: “There are three concerns. The first is that council debt is actually just rates deferred. The greater the debt the less opportunity there is in future for containing the cost of rates for households and businesses.

    “Secondly, council debt contributes to New Zealand’s overall indebtedness. Households and businesses are doing their bit by pulling back their borrowing, and local government needs also to tighten its belt.

    My third concern is that for some councils their level of debt-servicing costs is becoming so great that it puts the financial viability of their council at risk.”

    So, first Steven Joyce says provincial/rural NZ will not pay for Red Len’s (or his surrogates’) dreams. Now the Min for Loc Govt says Len’s borrowing will adversely impact on total Govt/Public debt …., and tighten his belt!

    Sorry, Len. You have as much chance as Dove-Myere Robinsion did with his pipe dreams.

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  6. wreck1080 (3,533 comments) says:

    This is very nasty.

    Len brown is making the poor and impoverished pay for trains they cannot afford to use anyway.

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  7. peterwn (2,940 comments) says:

    flipper – Mayor Robbie even wanted a different rail gauge for his train sets meaning a completely new rail system from scratch (only advantage is standard gauge electric multiple units might be cheaper than narrow gauge ones as used in NZ, Perth and Brisbane).

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  8. swan (651 comments) says:

    “Motorists cover the cost of the roads they drive on through gas taxes and road user charges”

    Not true. Half the cost of non-state highway roading is subsidised by rates. Also the real-estate on which most roading sits has never been paid for by motorists.

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  9. Paulus (2,299 comments) says:

    So real socialism once again raises its head – poor JAFA’s – after all it’s only your money Red Len wishes to spend.
    And you must know he knows how to spend your money better than you do.
    I understand that the upcoming rates bills will make many people scream.
    Perhaps only those whose names are on the rates bills can have a vote, not those on the electoral role.
    You would see a different Council and philosophy.

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  10. burt (7,096 comments) says:

    A socialist… proposing new taxes to pay for a pet project – knock me down with a feather… who would have seen that coming !

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  11. Right of way is Way of Right (1,125 comments) says:

    Lets see thsi for what it really is. The remainder of Auckland paying for Len Browns Election Bribes for the South Auckland. Free swimming pools anyone?

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  12. XChequer (350 comments) says:

    Go Len, GO!!!!

    Take them for everything they’ve got and then go back for more.

    Just leave the rest of us poor buggers alone.

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  13. gazzmaniac (2,270 comments) says:

    Not true. Half the cost of non-state highway roading is subsidised by rates. Also the real-estate on which most roading sits has never been paid for by motorists.

    Most ratepayers are also motorists. I have no doubt that given the option to reduce their rates and increase fuel excise, most ratepayers would take it, since then all the people who don’t pay rates will pay for their portion of road maintenance.

    Most roads in a new development are paid for by the developer – he has to give up a portion of his land as a road reserve to provide access to all the new blocks created by the development. The people who ultimately build on the land pay for the construction of their road, through a slightly higher priced section. Funnily enough, it is those people who benefit the most by having a road go to their houses.
    I don’t know exactly who pays for land underneath a state highway, but presumably motorists are either paying through their contributions in fuel tax/registration or their income taxes.

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  14. tas (530 comments) says:

    Development contributions – charges on new property developments.

    Regional income tax – new income tax paid only by Aucklanders.

    Regional payroll tax – new income tax paid by Auckland employers.

    Regional GST – raising GST in Auckland.

    Tax increment financing – tax on increase in property values from transport services.

    These are all terrible ideas. Implementing them and compliance costs would be a headache. They would need parliamentary approval. I doubt any will happen. Maybe these options are only there to make the others look more palatable.

    Airport departure tax – increasing departure tax on international flights.

    This is his plan to get the rest of the country to pay. Most international flights go through Auckland.

    Visitor taxes – nightly charge for hotel and motel rooms.

    Hotel taxes are just illogical. Does the government want to discourage hotel use for some reason? Do hotels place some kind of burden on the government? The only logic is that, if you are staying in a hotel, you probably can’t vote in Auckland elections, so local govt can happily screw you over. It’ll just mean fewer visitors to Auckland, which hurts the city.

    General rates – increasing rates.

    Targeted rates – rates to pay for specific projects.

    Not happening if Len wants to get re-elected.

    Regional fuel tax – raising petrol and diesel taxes across Auckland.

    Tolling new roads – charging for new roads.

    Tolling existing roads – charging on all roads or just congested roads.

    Carparking charges – increasing carparking fees.

    These are the only acceptable proposals. Charge the users of Auckland roads for the costs of building them and building alternatives.

    Where is the “no new taxes” option?

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  15. flipper (3,274 comments) says:

    Peterwn..
    Yep…you are right. Tks.
    But he (DMR) still wanted the rest of N Z to pay.

    The message from Smith (aka Key / English /Joyce / Brownlee) to Red Len is that the country has other debt problems . Ergo, a new bunch of borrowing is not going to fly (or run thru his tunnels!).

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  16. iiq374 (262 comments) says:

    Where is the you were elected by lying to the (idiot) population of Auckland that the funding was already there and didn’t need debating so pay for the damn thing yourself (personally).

    Also – would like the no rail loop option; or rail to East Auckland option

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  17. swan (651 comments) says:

    @ gazzmaniac

    I didn’t realise motorists paid special rates and income taxes – I’ve never noticed this on my tax return/ rates bill.

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  18. Manolo (12,643 comments) says:

    That’s the socialist’s motto: Taxes and higher taxes!
    The fools who elected this clown are going to pay for it, dearly.

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  19. swan (651 comments) says:

    “Where is the you were elected by lying to the (idiot) population of Auckland that the funding was already there and didn’t need debating so pay for the damn thing yourself (personally).”

    I don’t recall him lying that the funding was already there – link?

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  20. Mark (1,302 comments) says:

    Is clown Brown a first class idiot? Like a great many decisions we all face each day, if we cannot afford it we don’t get it. What is it about local body politicians that this fundamental truth is removed from their thinking process.

    I do not live in Auckland so I am not the best person to judge whether an inner city rail loop is the best option or not. What I do see on my frequent trips to Auckland is that the bus lanes on the motorways seem to work fairly well and those that catch the bus get a reasonable trip into the city. Surely an iteration of a priority bus lane would be a more economic option than Browns pipe-dream of the inner city rail loop.

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  21. flipper (3,274 comments) says:

    tas..
    Where is the “no new taxes” option?..

    But if New Zealand Inc. won’t pay, and the Government puts a crimp in his borrowing, how will he fulfill his red-dream?

    Tas, you should understand that it Red Len’s is divine right to tell folk that they must accept his dictates.

    Please, Tas, you must hear and obey the Dear Leader!

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  22. Rob Salmond (260 comments) says:

    Wait, **you** are criticizing a GST increase for not appearing in an election manifesto? Good luck with your credibility there.

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  23. davidp (3,329 comments) says:

    Auckland Council have an existing income stream that is under their control. Which is rates. The only reason brown doesn’t want to use rates to finance his projects is because they’d probably have to double and he knows that he’d be out on his ear at the next election.

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  24. RightNow (6,350 comments) says:

    If only POAL was still worth something Len could sell it to fund his train set

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  25. immigant (950 comments) says:

    Expensive rent, expensive houses, now taxes for just having the misfortune of not being able to get a job in any other part of New Zealand? If Len wants some riots he’s going teh right way about it.

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  26. Keeping Stock (9,791 comments) says:

    I certainly can’t see the unions getting out in South and West Auckland next year and walking the streets to get Len Brown elected. His Grand Plan seems to be more like an exercise in grandstanding.

    http://keepingstock.blogspot.co.nz/2012/02/lens-grand-plan.html

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  27. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    “How novel to have a Mayor who is a member of the Labour Party propose to increase GST (in Auckland). I don’t recall that one being in the manifesto in 2010.”

    He is not proposing any of these at this stage – he’s asking the people of Auckland which option they’d prefer, including encouraging discussion on options he might not be keen on himself which is a refreshing change. Although it’s interesting to note Michael Barnett’s argument that a truly open discussion of funding options would not exclude assett sales.

    My preferred options of those presented would be a regional fuel tax, increased parking charges and tolling roads (in that order). These would have the effect of pricing congestion and road use and also have minimal competitive impact on most business (parking and petrol charges already vary greatly between regions and make up a small part of most businesses costs). I’m not keen on options like visitor charges, payroll taxes etc that would be a nigthmare to administer and bring in precious little revenue.

    Overall though it seems to me that he’s acting like a grown up – being realistic that if you increase public infrastructure (as he promised to do and was elected on the platform of doing) then it needs to be paid for and more borrowing is not an option. I suspect this approach will see the end of Len Brown at the next election – Hubbard faced a similar fate – he tried to make up for historic underinvestment in infrastructure, plus cover todays costs, plus lay an infrastructure foundation for future growth, all without taking on substantial debt. The outcome was that the past, present and future needs of the city were loaded onto current ratepayers who saw huge rates rises and there was a massive revolt that turfed him from office.

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  28. Manolo (12,643 comments) says:

    Wait, **you** are criticizing a GST increase for not appearing in an election manifesto? Good luck with your credibility there.

    Who could disagree with Rob on this one?

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  29. burt (7,096 comments) says:

    Rob Salmond chimes in with the only defense that socialists have these days – Your team did it too…..

    OK, so clearly when the left want to do it that’s OK because the right once did it, and the left once did it. Hey lets just accept anything that happens justified by the other team did it too.

    What a fucking waste of space you are Rob – come on man up – have the same outrage when your team do it as you do when the other team do it !

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  30. gump (1,232 comments) says:

    Richard29 is right.

    Auckland had seen decades of under-investment in infrastructure e.g. it’s appalling that the sphagetti junction upgrades have only just been completed.

    Rail will be needed to keep the CBD staffed. And whether other NZers like it or not, Auckland’s CBD is one of the engines that powers the national economy.

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  31. Rob Salmond (260 comments) says:

    Yeah, thanks for playing Burt. No go and calm down.

    (By the way: can you point me to the part where I supported Brown’s GST proposal? Didn’t think so.)

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  32. CJPhoto (183 comments) says:

    He is trying to be cunning. He is just putting out options to get the public to choose the ‘new tax’ they want.

    But without a “no new tax option” and/or “no train set option” he is trying to get people to ‘approve’ something they don’t approve (ie. the lest worse alternative).

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  33. Viking2 (10,744 comments) says:

    Ah well Len needs to get the same message as most of you. If you want new assets then you need to sell some of the old ones.
    Sell POAL,Landholdings not needed in the near future, business operations that could be done better by someone else.

    Tauranga has started but a long way to go yet and we have less of those assets left as we did quit some a while back.

    How big does the Empire have to be?

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  34. Spam (586 comments) says:

    He is not proposing any of these at this stage – he’s asking the people of Auckland which option they’d prefer, including encouraging discussion on options he might not be keen on himself which is a refreshing change.

    Yeah – a tactic that works on 3-year-olds (who think they have to pick one-of the options, and don’t have the congitive development to realise that they can pick another option “none”). Let’s hope it doesn’t work on ratepayers.

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  35. flipper (3,274 comments) says:

    Say gump…. when you said:
    “Rail will be needed to keep the CBD staffed. And whether other NZers like it or not, Auckland’s CBD is one of the engines that powers the national economy.”……

    What planet were you on?

    Of those that work in the Auckland CBD (please define!) I wonder how many come from South Auckland.

    Moreover, it is already clear that the rest of NZ does not buy the BS about regional taxes being met only by Aucklanders.

    There is a fundamental flaw in the Dear Leader’s argument, namely that if the Auckland Region really is the “powerhpouse”, then his regional taxes will be passed to the rest of NZ. If not, will all Auckland businesses be forced to pass on regional taxes ONLY to Auckland residents? Are there to be two prices, the higher being for Auckland?

    The “powerhouse” businesses and Aucklanders alone will be unable to bear the cost. They would therefore pass their costs on to the rest (3.5 / 5ths) of New Zealand, would they not? If they do not, Aucklanders would price themselves out of the market (their costs would be too great, causing business to shift elsewhere). So, again I ask, would they not?.

    Silly. Just plaiun silly!

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  36. RRM (8,997 comments) says:

    How about inviting tenders for a design-build-operate contract?

    [and if no-one is interested in bidding for the right to build it and run it on a commercial footing, there's probably a lesson there...]

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  37. burt (7,096 comments) says:

    RRM – what a PPP arrangement…. are PPP’s a good thing again ?

    In the early stages of the Clark tyranny they were all the rage – then they were bad – Oh boy lets hope that the decision is based on good outcomes for voters rather than good outcomes for an election…..

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  38. Spam (586 comments) says:

    [and if no-one is interested in bidding for the right to build it and run it on a commercial footing, there's probably a lesson there...]

    Depends if Len can swing the ratepayers coughing-up a per-ride subsidy as well. Because it will need one to keep operating.

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  39. burt (7,096 comments) says:

    Rob Salmond

    Sorry I forgot, bagging [insert-percieved-right-wing-nut-job-name-here] for [insert-bad-thing-de-jour-here] is very different from being silent when [insert-percieved-left-wing-hero] wants to do the same thing….

    I guess that’s why I said;

    come on man up – have the same outrage when your team do it as you do when the other team do it !

    Because I was suggesting you be consistent with the issue rather than be partisan…. I don’t think this is too hard for you to understand because if it were you wouldn’t have challenged me to find where you support it from Len, rather you would have shrunk away hoping I don’t pull previous quotes where you bag others for the same thing while you sit silently now.

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  40. iiq374 (262 comments) says:

    @swan
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10672327

    Otherwise if you can’t remember how Browns “public-private partnerships and infrastructure bonds” were the magical answer to all 3 of his magical transport promises do a Google and it might come flooding back. In fact you might want to go through how even when he was called out by both John Banks and Andrew Williams (of all people) that PPP’s and Infrastructure Bonds weren’t magical silver bullets he persisted with this line – and specifically that the burden wouldn’t fall on Aucklanders.

    Of course anyone who paid attention to the fact that LB couldn’t even get bus lanes implemented in Manukau, nor a single new train station, or line extension knew he was full of sh*t. Especially when he was decrying “pro-road” John Banks (dedicated bus lane, re-opened Onehunga train line, developers carrying costs of new Sylvia Park train station…)

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  41. gazzmaniac (2,270 comments) says:

    I didn’t realise motorists paid special rates and income taxes – I’ve never noticed this on my tax return/ rates bill.

    No, but some of that money is put towards roads. I haven’t got access to official stats, but I think it’s fair to say that most people who pay tax and rates also drive cars.
    Your argument for saying that “Half the cost of non-state highway roading is subsidised by rates” is technically valid. To say that ratepayers are subsidising motorists is blatantly untrue, because in practise most ratepayers drive cars. What is in fact happening is that drivers who pay rates are subsidising drivers that don’t pay rates. That is another argument entirely, but suffice to say that just because you live in an expensive suburb doesn’t mean that you drive any less than someone who lives in a cheaper one or indeed that a one person household drives the same amount as a six person household.
    I would support a move towards excise funding all road maintenance, but that would have to be coupled with a reduction in rates.

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  42. burt (7,096 comments) says:

    Here is a thought, I ride a bicycle to work most days so I’m not paying fuel taxes or parking fees. Therefore I’m not doing my bit to subsidize others who want cheap public transport. Perhaps Len could find a nice and easy way to tax cyclists because they are not doing their bit to keep travel costs down for others.

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  43. iiq374 (262 comments) says:

    As an aside the rail link that would make far more sense is to link in Howick / Pakuranga.

    The “loop” is really just adding additional capacity to an area that is generally serviced OK, and are within cycle commute distance – as opposed to an area that is so poorly serviced that the businesses in Glenn Innes, Panumre & Sylvia Park are complaining about the park and ride commuters using up all their parking.

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  44. gump (1,232 comments) says:

    flipper said:

    There is a fundamental flaw in the Dear Leader’s argument, namely that if the Auckland Region really is the “powerhpouse”, then his regional taxes will be passed to the rest of NZ. If not, will all Auckland businesses be forced to pass on regional taxes ONLY to Auckland residents? Are there to be two prices, the higher being for Auckland?

    The “powerhouse” businesses and Aucklanders alone will be unable to bear the cost. They would therefore pass their costs on to the rest (3.5 / 5ths) of New Zealand, would they not? If they do not, Aucklanders would price themselves out of the market (their costs would be too great, causing business to shift elsewhere). So, again I ask, would they not?.

    ——————————

    My comments were about the value of the Auckland rail loop, not the proposed funding model.

    With a few notable exceptions, I think that regional taxes are a daft idea. I can only assume that the Mayor has (so far) failed to get the central government on board to fully fund the rail project and is doing a bit of kite flying to test the public’s reaction.

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  45. iiq374 (262 comments) says:

    @gump “I can only assume that the Mayor has (so far) failed to get the central government on board to fully fund the rail project and is doing a bit of kite flying to test the public’s reaction.”

    I’d say someone pointed out to LB that the election is next year and he has again failed to deliver on any of his high profile public transport promises. It might actually bite his re-election chances this time that he’s failed to deliver any public transport wins in the last 6 years.

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  46. Rob Salmond (260 comments) says:

    burt – Your idea seems to be that nobody gets to accurately identify where DPF contradicts himself without at the same time creating a catalog of where everyone else has also contradicted themselves on that issue or similar issues. Good luck with that. I look forward, in your spirit of internal consistency, to you also playing parking-attendant with all right-leaning commenters here who have a go at lefty inconsistency without noting all right-leaning inconsistency. Good luck with that, too.

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  47. slijmbal (1,134 comments) says:

    Light rail – the most expensive way to move the smallest number of people between the smallest number of places with the least flexibility.

    How about a real bus system as an option? Damn site cheaper I would imagine.

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  48. burt (7,096 comments) says:

    Rob Salmond

    So still no comment on the increasing of taxes then… Your silence on the issue is very telling.

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  49. Rob Salmond (260 comments) says:

    burt – I live in the USA. I have never lived in Auckland. I have no idea about the wisdom of particular regional tax policy in Auckland. I never thought about it. I have not been following the issue. I do not see how my failure to express a public view on an issue I know little about is “very telling.” But I can see a contradiction a mile off.

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  50. burt (7,096 comments) says:

    slijmbal

    How about a real bus system as an option? Damn site cheaper I would imagine.

    But less social engineering to implement. Remember the key socialist end game – control the population. How can you control the population when you don’t pick the winners and losers ?

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  51. cha (3,541 comments) says:

    How about a real bus system as an option? Damn site cheaper I would imagine

    What, a bus rapid transport system with a fleet of hybrid electric buses running on dedicated bus ways and existing corridors?.

    Nah, too easy.

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  52. burt (7,096 comments) says:

    Rob Salmond

    I have no defense for DPF being inconsistent. It appears he’s probably doing the same thing as I ping you for. That being having a lot to say when the other team do it but diddly squat (or worse support) when his team do it.

    Which was my starting point…. It’s different when “my” team do it.

    I’ve scanned vai a quick search “rob salmond gst increase site:www.kiwiblog.co.nz” and I’ve not really got the energy to start linking like crazy. Lets just say you have had a fair bit to say about GST and other taxes in the past – so how about we get to hear some of your comments on Len’s plans. (in the broader political sense – rather than a specific noddy wiggle out that you haven’t lived in Auckland)

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  53. YesWeDid (1,003 comments) says:

    DPF, why have you not included road tolls in your list of proposed taxes? Road tolls seem the most sensible option for raising the money required (if a local tax rather than nation wide tax is adopted) and are mentioned in the Herald article you link to.

    It seems you left the more practical options for raising the necessary tax as a bit of ‘DPF spin’ to help discredit the whole thing.

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  54. Rob Salmond (260 comments) says:

    burt

    If you have “no defense for DPF being inconsistent,” which was my only point, then why are you wasting your time and mine chasing me around here prosecuting your inconsistently-applied consistency standard? And, irony or ironies, why are you calling other people “a fucking waste of space” while you are wasting this fucking space.

    Kisses,
    Rob

    And as for my own views on Len Brown’s GST increase – see my comment above.

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  55. flipper (3,274 comments) says:

    “Mr Salmond?”…

    Can we deal with realities?

    The Dear Leader, Red Lennie, and his acolytes (including you Mr Salmond?) do not seem to understand that the great unwashed do not wish to be enmeshed by his grandiose plans.
    They would prefer:
    1) Independence, of thought, action and travel.
    2) That he, if he is one of them, be and act like them.

    Good afternoon.

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  56. burt (7,096 comments) says:

    YesWeDid

    The problem I see with road tolls is that they fall directly onto the consumers of the service and are actually a genuine user pays scenario. Although conventional wisdom might suggest that’s exactly what we should do – public transport flies against that reality. IE: It’s cost is not directly levied on the people that use it.

    Although you might be right about DPF’s angle, the way I see it socialists can’t cope with road tolls because it lacks the critical element required by socialist thinking – that being somebody else needs to pay for the things they want.

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  57. Scott Chris (5,682 comments) says:

    Cha’s thinking along the right tracks…

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  58. burt (7,096 comments) says:

    Scott Chris

    I agree, but I can’t think of a way to make the people who don’t use them pay for them – the socialists will though.

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  59. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    As someone blessed by living far removed form Auckland I would not like to see this socialist git introduce some new form of thievery. Why, well the rest of us should not be quick to laugh at Auckland’s woes. You can guarantee that if Red Len gets his wish every other regional council will be quick to do the same to the rest of us. Also Len should do himself a favour and watch what is happening in Greece, the people will not remain sheep forever, I’m sure the Auckland council building would make a great bonfire.

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  60. tvb (3,947 comments) says:

    Len does not mention cost recovery. Or is it this issue means the trains will operate with very nominal fares. Normally I would expect the fares to cover borrowing costs but rail cannot even do that. The economic case for this will be appalling.

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  61. slijmbal (1,134 comments) says:

    @cha

    guided busways on their own rails suffer the same problem as light rail – they are fixed point to point with high capital outlay

    I live on the shore – we have already spent millions for bus stations and a bus lane on the motorway. We have a number of bus lanes already in place. I know because I see them empty in the morning with the occasional bus.

    However, we don’t have many busses and we probably need more smaller busses on many routes rather than the traditional monsters. They also needed to put the park and ride bus stations in accessible locations rather than having to suffer the same traffic problems getting to the park and ride as to the actual motorway on ramp. For many the time taken to get on to the motorway is where the travel time is gobbled up on the shore. So, why park and ride? It would also help if there were enough parks and they did not tow people for parking close to the park and ride stations. They f**d it up, bascially.

    These are good examples why local councils cannot be trusted with hundreds of millions and billions of expenditure on infrastructure. They are just too incompetent.

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  62. burt (7,096 comments) says:

    tvb

    The economic case for this will be appalling.

    The economic case for socialism is as appalling as it is appealing to those who want access to other peoples money. Have no fear, the economic case will be a secondary consideration to the popularity it will bring him – IN THE SHORT TERM !

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  63. dog_eat_dog (682 comments) says:

    DPF, I’d take your objections to the people of Hamilton and Oamaru paying for the rail loop even further. Why should Aucklanders who can’t access commuter rail pay for it?

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  64. mikenmild (8,904 comments) says:

    This is exactly what the government wanted when it established the super city – one voice for Auckland. In this case though, the government preferred a council to be led by John Banks (hah!) rather than Len Brown, so now when Auckland does speak the government will probably stick its fingers in its ear and say “can’t hear you!”

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  65. burt (7,096 comments) says:

    dog_eat_dog

    Why should Aucklanders who can’t access commuter rail pay for it?

    Because it’s simply not fair to put the cost on the people who use it…. that’s not how socialism works.

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  66. Rightandleft (574 comments) says:

    Public transport is always going to lose money. That’s why it is almost always run by the state, it is a social service necessarily run at a loss. There’s no way Len could let the users of the system actually pay for it through ticket prices because they would be so high no one would ride it. In many cities light-rail systems or full subway networks are an absolute necessity. A regular rail system is the fastest way to move the largest number of people from one place to another. But to make is sustainable you need a much higher population density than Auckland has. The system isn’t viable and it isn’t necessary here.

    Most Aucklanders complain about traffic only because they haven’t lived in cities that have real traffic problems. Most major US cities are far, far worse despite having rail systems. I have personally experienced daily life with traffic in Washington DC and Boston and both are incredibly worse than here. Yet in Washington 85% of commuters choose to drive alone to work rather than use the extensive and cheap light rail, subway system or bus network. Traffic back-ups begin up to 40km outside the city as early as 6AM and in the evening traffic is often a nightmare until after 8PM. When Len Brown suggested congestion charges I had to laugh. What congestion? I’ve lived in the CBD, driven through it often, it is only bad by tame NZ standards.

    A city rail loop will only benefit a very small number of people, at great expense to the rest of us. Auckland hasn’t even completed its ring-road yet, it isn’t time to abandon motorway building just because it’s bad for the environment. These extra taxes are insane given that Auckland is already the most expensive place in the country to live and already provides more tax revenue than it uses in services. Why should we have to pay even more? As a teacher I get paid the same as colleagues in Greymouth or Napier who have far lower costs of living already. More taxes is just a recipe for driving businesses and tourists out of the city.

    I voted for Len last time, I won’t be doing that again. The only consolation I have is that Banksy was pushing the crazy rail-loop too. Remember when ACT got back in there was talk he might even make building the loop part of his coalition deal. I hope next time there’s a better alternative to Brown, not that they’d have to do much to beat him, he seems to be doing a good job of defeating himself.

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  67. burt (7,096 comments) says:

    I need to get my bike serviced and get a couple of new tyres and probably a new chain etc. Can all you people who don’t know me, don’t ride bikes and don’t even live in Wellington please dig a little deeper on your rates so I can keep my own transport costs to a minimum. A rate payer subsidised bike service and parts shop would be great – Thanks.

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  68. Tautaioleua (266 comments) says:

    :(

    DPF, I would hate to think that you’re trying to deliberately mislead your readership by referring ONLY to the railway loop in this thread. Most Aucklander’s know that the price tag also includes a second Waitemata crossing for example, and interestingly you fail to mention that here.

    I think that reducing the overall expenditure of Auckland’s local government is more ideal to the option of new taxes/increases.

    I am also a fan of Len Brown’s vision for Auckland’s transport system moving forward, he made his vision abundantly clear from day one of his campaign bid, it came as no surprise to informed voters like myself.

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  69. bhudson (4,720 comments) says:

    burt,

    Sorry, but my contribution has already gone to the trolley buses.

    Infernal things. I wonder how much the cost of electricity might drop locally if those things weren’t sucking it up? Worse than it contributing to aggregate demand, which, of course, helps to keep prices up, is that we are paying for the privilege of having higher power bills through subsidising the damn things to begin with – their purchase and operational costs!

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  70. Steve (4,330 comments) says:

    This Len bloke is going to suffer if he continues with his train set. More Public Transport will not work in Auckland, the City is jam packed full of buses, and the trains are a joke. We need roads, big roads (which we are paying for and not getting) (extra fuel tax, remember that?)
    Plan your retirement now Len, you are history and so are the cogsuckers and iceholes who are in Council now.
    Aucklanders learn when it hits them in the arse pocket, we have had enough of your ‘spending other people’s money’

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  71. ste3e (89 comments) says:

    John Key is reneging on supporting Len Brown who was elected mayor on the ‘build the train set’ ticket… just like Key said he would not. Busy supporting the yanks as they turn NZ into the new Guantanamo, guilty until proven innocent!

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  72. Rightandleft (574 comments) says:

    I don’t recall campaign promises of GST rises and massive rate increases from Len in 2010. I expected him to improve infrastructure within the existing budget or with the help of the central government. If there are to be tolls they should only be charged on the new roads, such as the second harbour crossing. This way a free alternative will still exist, the same as with the Northern Gateway toll road. The new harbour crossing could become a HOT (high-occupancy/toll) motorway such as exist in California and the Washington DC metro area. When traffic increases on the original bridge the toll on the new bridge/tunnel goes up, when traffic is lighter it falls. This prevents it ever becoming too congested. High occupancy vehicles, taxis and buses are exempt from the toll, encouraging car-pooling and public transport. The Northern Busway would then avoid the bridge bottleneck as well, increasing its efficiency. The old harbour bridge would likely need a smaller toll to keep everyone from using just it when there is no traffic, but the Upper Harbour Highway should remain a totally free alternative.

    That is the only scenario where I’d be willing to put up with tolls. I don’t like the idea of them at all and if they are used they must be entirely electronic so as to avoid creating brand new bottlenecks.

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  73. Other_Andy (2,079 comments) says:

    “Mr Brown said Aucklanders – faced with a rapidly growing population and an already congested roading network – had to make some hard decisions to meet a $10-15 billion shortfall for a package of major transport projects over the next 30 years.”

    Easy. Stop the rapidly growing population, limit immigration.
    New Zealand’s population has almost doubled in 50 years.
    It now stands at 4.5 million. How much is enough?
    5 million, 10 million, 20 million……..?
    People are fleeing other parts of the world (Europe and Asia) to New Zealand for the life style.
    Compared to other palces, quiet, wide open spaces, unpolluted…….
    Very soon we will have the same problems.
    You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Til It’s Gone…

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  74. bhudson (4,720 comments) says:

    ste3e,

    I am sure you would be happy to provide the link to John Key’s endorsement of Len Brown’s campaign where he said “If Aucklanders choose to elect this man, I will give him money for his train set.” Or words to the equivalent thereof.

    What I think you might find happened is that Len painted all sorts of bright colours in his PT vision, knowing that he needed someone else to pay for them, and not first checking to see if they would.

    Maybe he blindly thought that Labour would be returned to the treasury benches in 2011 as the public realised the foolishness of their ways in 2008? That was, after all, the Labour election campaign in a nutshell.

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  75. Tautaioleua (266 comments) says:

    I agree, road tolls and tax hikes are not the way forward for Auckland’s transport woes.

    Sadly, central government has failed to join the party on this one, despite our embarrassing showcase at the Opening Ceremony of the RWC11 – trains completely halted, buses jammed to third world comparison and all access to the CBD cut off by congestion.

    Astonishingly, of all options, the report failed to mention internal belt-tightening. I would have thought that this was the most sensible alternative.

    Auckland’s population is expected to double by 2050. If we don’t improve public transport options now we will never host another international event again (and if we ever do it will be the source of all JOKES!).

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  76. Fisiani (859 comments) says:

    How do you vote for 3billion in cuts, 3 billions in asset sales and purchase 6billion worth of assets?

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  77. Rightandleft (574 comments) says:

    Stopping immigration is by no means the answer. This country has been built by immigrants and it needs more. Remember we are losing 1,000 Kiwis a week to Oz and this creates a major brain drain. The immigrants coming here are highly skilled and well educated. They have to spend a great deal of money and time to make the move. We aren’t talking about the kind of unskilled, undocumented non-English speaking masses that are the issue in the US and to a lesser extent Europe. NZ’s population growth is one of its assets. A larger population base, one that is skilled and brings in more capital, is good for the economy. NZ’s population is predicted to be 6 million by 2050, which is by no means overwhelming. There are over 7 million people in the tiny American state of Massachusetts today, yet quality of life there is just as good as here and we have much more area to spread the populace over.

    On assets sales and belt-tightening I have to say it seems a big over-reaction to me. Everyone seems scared by what has happened in Europe and the US but our national debt is nowhere near that league. As a proportion of our GDP it is incredibly low by intl. standards already. Our private debt is another matter, but state cutbacks and sell-off won’t change that. That being said I’m not against the mixed-ownership model at all and considering the way many SOEs rip us off I’m all for it. But personally I would like to see a little more borrowing for the infrastructure rather than big tax increases. These are new assets our children and grandchildren will benefit from, so let them pay a part of the cost.

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  78. Tauhei Notts (1,511 comments) says:

    Len Brown’s comments about an income tax on Aucklanders is not as silly as many of you have scoffed at.
    Consider the possibility of an income tax surcharge on Aucklanders AND those New Zealanders that have any contact with a branch in Auckland. The Oamaru employees of KFC would have a surcharge because their head office is in Auckland. The Invercargill employees of Mainfreight would have a similar surcharge. Workers would demand a higher salary to work with any outfit tainted with that Auckland scourge. Note how quickly Fonterra would shift their head office closer to their shareholders. Social welfare beneficiaries in Auckland would be encouraged to shift out of that hell hole so that their benefits would increase. They would no longer be residents of Auckland and that would save Red Len lots of dough.
    Most importantly; Aucklanders would cease to bludge off the rest of the country.
    That would be of immense benefit to the rest of New Zealand.
    Somebody queried the compliance costs. I do not think they would be all that much. I make that comment firmly in the knowledge that I have probably had more to do with the administration of the tax system in New Zealand over the past forty five years than almost all of the contributors to this blog.
    Talk about compliance costs; just wait until the Employer Superannuation Contribution Tax catches up with each and every employer in New Zealand from 1st July 2012 with the increased contributions by employers to the Kiwisaver scheme; then you will hear wails of anguish about compliance costs, but that is another story.
    Back to the income tax surcharge. It would assist in the development of the rest of New Zealand.
    Rates; I had a property in Auckland. the rates on that property were considerably lower than the rates in the provincial town in which I reside. I did the exercise a few years ago and adjusted the Auckland property’s rates to my local $285,000 capital value. It taught me that when it comes to paying rates Jafas don’t know what the real world is like. I sold the Auckland property because those body corporate administrators in that city make the Cosa Nostra look like raw untrained amateurs.

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  79. bhudson (4,720 comments) says:

    Tauhei Notts,

    I think Len would have to institute the Sate of Auckland first to raise those sort of taxes. Or perhaps more a Republic of Auckland?

    Of course we could sell it to him for something like POAL. That looks like a business that could be generate very healthy returns with some strong backing…

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  80. mikenmild (8,904 comments) says:

    Of course, most of this thread is nonsense, as the most realistic options are tolls, congestion pricing and local fuel taxes. Not to mention that way it is assumed by DPF and commenters that this is just about the rail and not about the vast roading projects for Auckland as well.

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  81. Rightandleft (574 comments) says:

    Why do people think Auckland is a drain on the country? It provides more tax revenue to the government than it gets back in government spending on it! Auckland isn’t a drain, it’s the engine of the economy.

    Setting up a separate income tax rate for Auckland actually would not be very difficult either. Not only do US states do so, but even some cities have their own income tax rates, including New York City. They also have extra sales taxes on top of federal/state ones. It would simply be an extra percentage (usually a flate rate like 4-5%) deducted from your pay above PAYE tax and ACC. In the US it is simply taxed on anyone working in that state/city. If you reside in the city/state but work elsewhere you only pay the tax where you work.

    So someone living in Maine or Vermont, which have the highest extra state income taxes in America, could instead work just across the border in New Hampshire, which has no state income tax at all. They could also drive across the border to shop in New Hampshire because it also has no sales tax, zero. The result is businesses and retail centres are built on the NH border where main routes cross to neighbour states. The neighbour states lose business of course and with them tax revenue. Does Auckland really want to go down that route?

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  82. gump (1,232 comments) says:

    dog_eat_dog said:

    Why should Aucklanders who can’t access commuter rail pay for it?

    ———————-

    Because it produces a net economic benefit in a region that is crucial to the NZ economy.

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  83. Griff (6,263 comments) says:

    There will be no nett benefit even it goes hand and hand with loopy lens demolish the central city suburbs and build apartments.
    Even then the rest of Auckland will be paying massive costs to subsidize it. The usual cost overruns will see it suck Auckland and New Zealand dry for ever.
    In a future based on the information age there is less and less reason to have head office in a central city highrise.Distributed models are far more adaptive than the centralization that Len is pushing.
    The land around the perimeter of Auckland is mostly owned by land bankers and is not intensively farmed .It is mostly held in a holding pattern waiting to be subdivided. There is room for more satellite developmental similar to Albany and Botany easily linked into a flexible bus focused transport system that is adaptive and flexible .

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  84. Rightandleft (574 comments) says:

    Gump, It hasn’t been proven that rail will produce a net economic benfit, that is a matter still up for debate. But beyond that if it was proven to be an economic benefit to the NZ economy as a whole why shouldn’t all New Zealanders then be asked to share in the cost of it. It doesn’t make sense to make people in Wellsford with no need for the rail pay but not people in Hamilton or Whangarei who stand to benefit just as much.

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  85. Rightandleft (574 comments) says:

    Also I have to add that this whole inner city rail loop idea seems to be based on the same kind of thinking that led planners in the 60s to dedicate half the lanes coming off the Harbour Bridge into the CBD, a mistake which has only just been fixed after decades of traffic jams.

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  86. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    Dorkland, who cares. Anyway, why charge everyone except the ( potential ) users. Tax public transport.

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  87. campit (438 comments) says:

    I’m late to the party, but here goes:

    There’s at least $10bn of roading in the so-called deficit, so this isn’t about funding the CBD rail link. There needs to be a prioritisation of this wish list. (Hint: spending hundreds of millions on motorway projects in the last decade hasn’t worked. Case in point is the Victoria Park tunnel, with the laughable claim of a 20 minute travel time saving at peak. Yeah right!)

    Traffic on the state highway network is flat or declining over the last 5 years. Public transport patronage on rail and the bus way grows by about 16% annually. That’s part of the reason why traffic volumes haven’t increased on the motorway. That growth needs to continue and it won’t be able to with Britomart being a dead end station.

    The option of giving Auckland’s it’s share of national fuel taxes ($2.5bn a year) to spend as it wishes should be on the list. Central Government is currently spending at least half the budget on projects with low benefit cost ratios, according to the briefing paper for the Minister of Transport, so central Government can hardly claim it knows best what to spend money on.

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  88. Kimble (4,095 comments) says:

    Traffic on the state highway network is flat or declining over the last 5 years. Public transport patronage on rail and the bus way grows by about 16% annually.

    What I see there is that people are starting to understand the costs to them of bad road travel and that this is making public transport more appealing. If the road system has hit capacity, then any extra movement is likely to be by other means, right?

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  89. swan (651 comments) says:

    @ campit

    “Case in point is the Victoria Park tunnel, with the laughable claim of a 20 minute travel time saving at peak. Yeah right!)”

    That claim was for southbound AM peak travel. Since the viaduct has been open to 4 lanes there has been free flowing motorway traffic over the bridge and through St Marys Bay every day, something I have rarely seen after 7AM in my decade of commuting in Auckland.

    As for Northbound, the 3rd lane through the tunnel has yet to open, so lets reserve judgement shall we?

    Going forward I agree a lot of the projects are of little economic sense. No doubt Puhoi-Wellsford is very popular around the BBQ’s at Omaha beach however.

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