Auckland‘s fuel tax a reality after council vote

Auckland councillors have voted to bring in a 11.5 cent-a-litre regional fuel tax to fund transport projects after a crunch debate today.

Fuel pump. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Councillors voted 13 to 7 in favour of the tax.

Today‘s debate on the proposed tax began with Mayor Phil Goff saying the consequences would be “inconceivable” if it was not introduced.

He said the government would likely walk away from an agreed programme of transport works, if the tax was rejected.

Councillor Penny Hulse said the tax had been debated for decades and the lack of action on transport had harmed communities.

After the debate, Mr Goff told RNZ it was a “great news” for the future of Auckland.

“We‘ve grasped the nettle, we know that we need to invest more, we know that for every dollar we invest, we‘re getting more than a dollar back in terms of government payments. This is another $4.3 billion into Auckland transport over the next decade and that‘s critically impertinent.”

Auckland Transport chief executive Shane Ellison told the meeting major committed projects would proceed regardless, but a large number of important shorter term improvements would not be possible.

Public support has been divided, and mostly narrowly in favour of proceeding with the tax, to tackle the city‘s transport problems.

Two councillors from Manukau – one of the city‘s poorest wards – were divided on the tax.

Alf Filipaina said he backed it, but struggled with the decision because so many people in his community appealed to him to reject it.

Efeso Collins said for families already “below zero” the extra cost of the tax would take food off their tables.

“These taxes hit the poorest the most,” he said.

Mr Collins told RNZ he could not vote on a fuel tax that was going to impact on the poorest people in the city.

He said accountability for the funds raised was the next big issue.

“Making sure that as this money is gathered, that we‘ve got good oversight of that money – where is it going, is the question.”

Papakura ward councillors Daniel Newman also spoke against the tax, saying it would hit those who had the least choice in how they got around the city the hardest.

Legislation allowing the tax is expected through Parliament in June, ahead of an expected July introduction.

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