MP for Auckland Central Nikki Kaye says Waiheke residents will soon be paying extortionate petrol prices as additional fuel taxes drive up the existing high prices on the island.
“National opposes the Government’s regional fuel tax legislation. I drafted an amendment to the legislation to permanently exempt Waiheke and Great Barrier from the tax, because the cost of fuel on the islands is already high and residents will see no local benefit from the tax.
“The Government has voted down my amendment. This means people on Waiheke Island, who already pay $2.60 per litre at the pump, will soon be paying up to 23 cents per litre more.
“The Minister of Transport said Waiheke residents should pay the tax because the fuel tax will fund the upcoming expansion of the Downtown Ferry Terminal. The reality is that the upgrade is not new – it has been discussed in Auckland Transport’s ferry development plans since 2014. The terminal services a range of areas in Auckland, and Waiheke commuters already pay a wharf tax on every ferry trip.
“My amendment also proposed excluding Great Barrier Island from the tax. The Minister has said that due to Auckland Council proposing this exclusion he will support it. I hope the Minister will follow through and use his powers outlined in the legislation to exempt Great Barrier, where residents are already paying $3.30 per litre for petrol.
“Waiheke and potentially Great Barrier will get hit three times with the regional fuel tax, national fuel tax increase, and the additional costs of living on an island. This isn’t fair, and to top it all off they are not going to reap the benefits of new transport projects.
“The $150 million per year that the regional fuel tax raises is equivalent to a 4% saving by Auckland Council. The council has done little to justify the tax by demonstrating it has run a ruler over its expenditure to attempt to find savings in areas such as its use of external consultants.
“The fuel tax will drive up the cost of living for all Aucklanders, and it will hit those who are struggling the hardest.
“The Government needs to start thinking about how this regressive tax is impacting communities – particularly those on Waiheke and Great Barrier who are already facing the high costs of living on an isolated island.”