Jami-Lee Ross on why Auckland doesn’t need a regional fuel tax

Jami-Lee Ross writes:

The regional fuel tax is intended to raise $150m a year, or about $1.5 billion over 10 years. But it’s not necessary. Auckland’s transport needs can be funded without it.

So how do we find this money if not through a tax? National has always said that Auckland Council should find the money through savings within its own spending, rather than through a raid on the wallets of hard-working Aucklanders. That would allow the council to still accrue all the benefits Wilson has argued can only come via a fuel tax, but will spare hard-working families in Auckland from the burden of new taxes.

But Simon Wilson and Phil Goff refuse to look seriously at finding savings as an alternative, and instead claim that the only other option would be to raise the money through a 14 per cent increase in rates. This is incorrect and misleading.

To fully replace the funding for the regional fuel tax, Auckland Council would need to find 4 per cent of savings in its budget. During the last mayoral election Phil Goff pledged to find 3 to 6 per cent of savings across Auckland Council’s expenditure. When he won that election and became mayor he instructed the council to go about and find those savings.

Instead, council expenditure has risen by about $800m over the past four years.

If Phil Goff had delivered on his pledge to find savings, then the transport plan could be funded with no need to tax Aucklanders more. It really is that simple.

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