29 Jun 2018

Auckland drivers queue for fuel ahead of tax

7:12 pm on 29 June 2018

Auckland motorists have been rushing to fill up ahead of the fuel tax that comes into effect on Sunday.

Fuel pump.

Fuel pump. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

From Sunday, they will pay an 11.5-cent-a-litre regional fuel tax which will be used to improve local roads, with more to come.

In October, that will rise to 15 cents a litre as the government introduces a nationwide fuel excise of 3.5 cents a litre, with two similar rises in 2019 and 2020.

At the Gull petrol station in Wiri in South Auckland today, cars queued to fill up.

At $1.93 a litre for unleaded 91, people had travelled across town to fill their tanks before Sunday's price hike.

Ben from Otara said it will be tough for struggling families.

"It definitely makes things a bit harder for people who are working minimum wage jobs that do own vehicles. Especially those who live in low socio-economic communities. A lot of us tend to come to places like this, come outside of our own community just to get petrol."

The queue was just as long at the Mobil station in Sandringham, where unleaded 91 cost $1.99.

Leilani Tamu and her husband had driven to several petrol stations before deciding to fill up there.

She supported the tax hikes if they resulted in a reliable public transport system, but said she was worried that will take time.

"Two days ago I caught the train and the bus, and then I ended up being 20 minutes late to pick up my son from day care. I had to call a relative to come pick up my son because the bus just didn't turn up. So, it's a bit like 'oh gosh' but as long as the system works, it's fine."

Another motorist, Susie Pannell, said higher fuel costs will also mean higher prices across the board.

"I just really find it hard because it's not just that the fuel is going to go up, everything is going to go up. The cost of living is going to go up on Sunday because if you increase the price of fuel, the price of bread is going to go up, the price of cheese is going to go up, everything's going to go up on Sunday."

Freight operators have warned customers they will have to raise their charges.

Tom Compton - who owns CV Compton, which delivers building products - said he has no choice but to pass it on.

"Ultimately our customers are paying more, it's up to them whether they want to absorb it and charge more and put their prices up. We will definitely be receiving more for our bit, that's for sure."

Mr Compton said while the fuel tax would raise prices, he supported anything that would lead to better roads and lower congestion.

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