The cost of living in Auckland is set to skyrocket with the Auckland regional fuel tax coming into effect today meaning Aucklanders will be paying a total of up to $1.5 billion more for petrol, National’s Transport spokesperson Jami-Lee Ross says.
“This fuel tax will hit those on lower incomes the hardest – almost four times as hard as those on higher incomes.
“Transport Minister Phil Twyford’s spin that it will cost people on low incomes less ignores the fact that they spend a greater proportion of their income on petrol so the tax hike will have a bigger impact on their ability to pay the bills, at a time of already record fuel prices.
“This tax is unfair and unnecessary. Auckland Council could easily find the money that the fuel tax would raise if it followed through on Mayor Phil Goff’s promise to find 3-6 per cent of savings in its budget.
“Instead, Twyford has given Auckland Council licence to tax and spend, and it is hardworking Aucklanders who will be paying the cost.
“National would repeal this tax. We have a plan to address the transport needs of Auckland without imposing new taxes and had already committed to projects like the Eastern Busway, Penlink, Mill Road and improvements to the Northern Busway.
“The major difference in our plans for Auckland is that we wouldn’t be pumping billions of taxpayers’ dollars into a tram to the airport.
“This is an outrageous tax and it never should have been imposed.”
Transport Minister Phil Twyford is fast losing what credibility he has left as he tries to claim that his regional fuel tax is not regressive, National’s Transport spokesperson Jami-Lee Ross says.
“Twyford is taking New Zealanders for fools if he thinks he can convince them that his regional fuel tax will not hit people on low incomes the hardest.
“Let’s be clear – this is a regressive tax and any claims otherwise fail to acknowledge the fact that low income households pay a much higher percentage of their total income on fuel than higher income households.
“This occurs for a number of reasons. Those who are on a lower income are more likely to live further away from main centres and they are also less likely to have newer and more fuel efficient cars.
“This means that people on lower incomes are more reliant on fuel because they need to drive further and consume more fuel when they drive.
“Those who can afford a newer and more fuel efficient car will be less impacted by this tax and can avoid it altogether if they buy an electric car.
“The risk of this regressive tax was specifically noted by the Ministry of Transport in its Regulatory Impact Statement.
“Twyford has also, as recently as last week, said himself that his regional fuel tax is regressive and he takes the regressive nature of the tax very seriously.
“To now claim that this tax is not regressive is nothing more than political spin and does nothing to ease New Zealanders’ concerns about the rising cost of living.”
The release of the Government’s transport policy confirms its intention to rip $5 billion out of regional state highways so that it can fund tram projects in Auckland, National’s Transport spokesperson Jami-Lee Ross says.
“The Government Policy Statement on Land Transport shows that this Government is committed to prioritising rail projects in the Auckland CBD over vital regional highways.
“This policy has already led to National’s next generation of Roads of National Significance being cancelled and the original Roads of National Significance Projects being re-evaluated.
“The Prime Minister has even been caught out by the impact of her Government’s policies.
“She promised regional projects like the Otaki to Levin Expressway were to continue as they were, but NZTA has confirmed that this project is now being re-evaluated under her Government’s transport policy.
“Transport Minister Phil Twyford further confirmed in Parliament that dozens of roads up and down the country are being re-evaluated by NZTA following the Government’s change in direction on transport.
“What’s worse, New Zealanders are being asked to pay more and are getting less.
“Increases to fuel taxes across the country of 12 cents per litre are being proposed over the next three years.
“This is an extraordinary raid on the back pockets of New Zealanders who are now being charged more at the pump but getting fewer roads.”
Phil Twyford has opened the floodgates to councils up and down the country wanting to hike taxes on motorists, proving his claims the regional fuel tax will be confined to Auckland are false, National’s Transport spokesperson Jami-Lee Ross says.
"At the same time as announcing nationwide fuel taxes will increase by up to 12 cents, the Transport Minister was writing his regional fuel tax bill with the clear intent of allowing a second round of fuel tax hikes to be rolled out on hard working New Zealanders nationwide.
“We knew Wellington, Christchurch and Tauranga councils had asked the Government for the new tax and now media have confirmed that so have 11 others – and it’ll be available to them in a few short years.
“Phil Twyford sold his tax as an Auckland issue, but all along has denied the law he's passing will see tax hikes in other areas in a few short years.
“And there’s not going to be a new debate in Parliament when all these other councils want to impose the new tax, they’ll just need to ask Twyford nicely. If elected, National will cancel the regional fuel tax.
"Local Government has had a problem with increasing spending for many years. It seems Labour's solution isn't to reign them in, but to find more ways for councils to take more money from taxpayers.
“This is further proof this Government can’t be trusted.
"If Labour wasn’t tipping $5 billion out of roading projects to fund Auckland trams, they would have the money available to assist councils with transport funding across the country.”
Health Minister David Clark ignored repeated pleas to tell the truth about Counties Manukau DHB and to clear their names from public servants whose reputation he had unfairly damaged, National’s MP for Botany Jami-Lee Ross says.
“This come after last week’s release of a damning voicemail where Dr Clark tried to silence former Counties Manukau District Health Board chairman, Rabin Rabindran, while simultaneous saying he would consider him for more jobs in the future.
“Correspondence between Dr Clark and Mr Rabindran shows Dr Clark threw hard working health professionals under the bus to protect himself, gagged them and then refused to front up when it was clear he had wronged them.
“Mr Rabindran repeatedly asked Dr Clark through emails, phone calls and text messages over several weeks to front up and admit he had mislead the public over claims he knew nothing about issues at Middlemore Hospital, and that he had made exaggerated claims.
“Mr Rabindran asks Dr Clark to correct his false claims Dr Rabindran and the DHB did not tell him about the issues and that Mr Rabindran had apologised for this, adding ‘my reputation has been badly affected’.
“In an email to colleagues, Dr Rabindran says of his discussions with Dr Clark ‘I said that I have a good reputation but all this in the media is affecting that reputation. He kept apologising. I wish I could have recorded what he said’.
“Dr Clark gave repeated assurances he would clear the matter up publicly but never did so. Instead, he appears to have tried to gag Mr Rabindran by offering him new appointments while at the same time asking him not to speak publicly.
“This is not offering an experienced lawyer and director a ‘dignified exit’, this is a disgrace.
“Dr Clark knew as early as March 22 that he was misleading New Zealanders. Yet he perpetuated lies about the DHB in media interviews and statements in Parliament for months.
“If Dr Clark had made a simple mistake and said the wrong thing, that’s understandable. But the fact he’s refused to front up in spite of the evidence he was wrong and the damage he has caused is unacceptable.
“Did Dr Clark make the call to leave these public servants carrying the can for his mistake, or was that decision made higher up within the government?
“The Prime Minister needs to tell New Zealanders whether or not this is acceptable behaviour from a Minister and what is going to be done about it because Mr Rabindran, the staff at Counties Manukau DHB and New Zealanders deserve so much better.”
The Prime Minister has again misled New Zealanders, this time breaking her promise that one of regional New Zealand’s most important roading projects would not be affected by the Government’s transport changes, National’s Transport spokesperson, Jami-Lee Ross says.
“New Zealanders were told just months ago by Jacinda Ardern and Transport Minister Phil Twyford that their new transport policies, including ripping $5 billion from the state highway budget, would not threaten major projects like the Otaki to Levin expressway.
"Both the Prime Minister and Mr Twyford gave repeated, specific assurances that the much-needed expressway started by National ‘is continuing in the same way’, and claiming the Opposition saying otherwise was ‘a political stunt designed to confuse the public.
“Well they owe the public an apology because they were wrong.
“Today both Mr Twyford and NZTA have been forced to confirm the expressway’s future is now up in the air because of Labour’s ill-thought through transport changes and its decision to substantially reduce funding at the expense of critical roading projects around our regions.
“NZTA has also confirmed a number of other major projects are being re-evaluated because of the Government’s unhealthy obsession with trams.
“Projects such as the Tauranga Northern Link have been halted.
“This is gutting for regional New Zealand whose major projects greenlit by the previous Government, to upgrade roads in some of the busiest and most dangerous areas, are now being put on hold so that Phil Twyford can build a tram set in Auckland.
“New Zealanders were promised their regional roads would go ahead and are paying new roading taxes which they thought would ensure that. It’s another broken promise and another example of an incompetent and clumsy Government saying one thing and doing another.”
With a majority of Aucklanders opposed to the proposed regional fuel tax, it is time for Transport Minister Phil Twyford to abandon his plans to tax Aucklanders more, National Party Transport Spokesperson Jami-Lee Ross says.
"51 per cent of the over 14,000 submissions to the Auckland Council on the regional fuel tax make the clear case that Aucklanders do not want new taxes,” Mr Ross says.
"Opposition to this tax has been strengthening with each round of consultation.
“Aucklanders have now told the Transport Minister multiple times that they do not want his new taxes, yet he arrogantly continues to insist he knows better.
“The Government has refused to look at alternatives to the regional fuel tax, like requiring the Council to follow through on its promise to find savings in its own budget.
“On Auckland Council’s own numbers, if they could find the 3-6 per cent of savings Mayor Phil Goff promised a fuel tax would not be needed.
“Instead, Phil Twyford and the Government are doggedly pursuing plans to tax Aucklanders more, and then rolling the tax across the country in a few years’ time.
“Families are already facing record high fuel prices. Now is not the time to impose additional new fuel taxes.
“National remains committed to funding Auckland’s transport needs like Penlink, Mill Road, the City Rail Link and the Eastern Busway without resorting to new taxes.
“The Government has failed to make its case and they should listen to the public’s call to abandon regional fuel taxes.”
With petrol prices climbing to record levels the Government should axe its plans to impose two new fuel taxes on New Zealanders, National’s Transport spokesperson Jami-Lee Ross says.
“New Zealanders are now paying record prices for petrol. The current price of $2.30 per litre beats the previous record set in 2013 and commentators are saying it could go as high as $3.
“At the same time the Government is imposing two new petrol taxes worth up to 25 cents per litre more, meaning New Zealanders could be paying up to an extra $15 every time they fill up.
“That’s too much and let’s not forget that with the price of petrol increasing without the new taxes, the Government is already collecting more tax revenue through higher prices.
“The Government is being completely hypocritical when it claims its trying to act on petrol price rises when it itself is driving them up. It is talking about a squeeze on middle New Zealand when it’s doing the squeezing by adding more taxes and costs to meet bad spending promises like $1 billion for Winston Peters and his diplomats.
“What’s worse is we know the Government doesn’t need the new money – it is awash with cash and if it gave up on its obsession with building an unnecessary tram in Auckland then it could build the roads and other infrastructure without the tax increases.
“It’s yet another example of this Government taxing more, borrowing more and spending more and New Zealanders paying the price. With petrol costs increasing it needs to put a stop to its plans to tax New Zealanders even more.”
Public consultation on Auckland’s regional fuel tax shows more people oppose it than support it - and that was before they were slammed with a surprise second fuel tax hike, National’s Transport spokesperson Jami-Lee Ross says.
“The Government and Auckland Council have tried to justify their extraordinary raid on the back-pockets of hardworking New Zealanders by claiming more Aucklanders support the tax than oppose it, but they jumped the gun.
“With consultation on the Council’s regional fuel tax now closed, 48 per cent of the almost 21,000 people who submitted oppose it, while 46 per cent support it.
“This is a reversal of the preliminary numbers the Council released to try and justify its new tax, when it said 50 per cent were in support and 41 per cent opposed.
“What should make the Government and Council really take notice is the opposition doesn’t even take into account the fact that Aucklanders have since been told they’ll be paying two new taxes after being blindsided by the Government’s massive national fuel tax hike.
“Combined they’ll add a total of around 25 cents per litre to the cost of fuel in Auckland, as opposed to the 11.5 cents they were consulted on.
“This is an extraordinary raid on the back-pockets of hard-working Aucklanders and most of it is to pay for a multi-billion tram to the airport.
“We know this because the Government has just re-announced National’s Auckland transport package but confirmed it will tax Aucklanders an extra 25 cents a litre of fuel to deliver its half-planned, half-funded multi-billion dollar tram to the Airport.
“Under Labour, Aucklanders will be paying hundreds of dollars a year more in fuel taxes but getting fewer new roads, with billions diverted to a tram from the CBD to the Airport.
“Regional New Zealand is being caned too, with more than $5 billion ripped out of state highway funding so more cash can be diverted to Auckland and the tram. The Government won’t need a poll to tell it how the regions are feeling about that.
“Opposition to the Government’s double tax is clearly growing and Transport Minister Phil Twyford needs to rethink his tax and spend plans for the city.”