12 Sep 2018

Auckland fuel tax: 'It's certainly making a big difference'

6:09 pm on 12 September 2018

Auckland motorists have expressed mixed emotions about forking out more than $13 million in the first month of the new Regional Fuel Tax.

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Photo: 123rf

The 11.5c a litre tax was added to petrol prices at the start of July to fund transport projects and is expected to raise $1.5 billion in the next decade.

Auckland Council said the money collected has been put towards upgrading rural roads, safety cameras at dangerous intersections and public transport projects.

Auckland motorists RNZ News spoke to today had mixed reactions to the news that the fuel tax had tallied $13.2 million in its first month.

Liam Manson - who lives in Tauranga but works in Auckland construction - said the fuel tax was hitting motorists hard.

"It seems like it's a little bit excessive. I mean they take enough of our money with tax, so why do they have to tax fuel even more? It's kind of ridiculous. I work hard for my money and I'd like to see some of it go towards me instead of fuel."

He said the extra cost meant his money did not go as far as it had done in the past at the fuel pump.

"It's crazy. Especially for people who are travelling long distances like myself. If the company's not paying for it, it's coming out of your pocket and it's making a hell of a dent in it. Fifty dollars worth of fuel is nowhere near what I get now."

Petrol prices have topped $2.40 a litre in some parts of Auckland and Waiuku man Henry Cowie said those living at the southern end of Auckland were getting a raw deal.

"It's an extra $40 a week because we have to come so far from Waiuku all the way into the city so it's certainly making a big difference to our weekly income.

Mr Cowie said poor public transport meant driving into the city, and forking out more for fuel, was his only option.

"I would have thought that maybe they would show us a bit of mercy and say seeing as you live so far out, you can be exempt from some of the tax that the rest of the motorists are paying just because there's a lack of proper public transport."

Gemma Edwards, a student living in Mt Eden, said she wasn't too badly affected by the fuel tax because she didn't use her car much, but even she had noticed a difference at the pump.

She said if the council put the tax towards public transport, it would soften the blow.

"If they're going to invest that money into Auckland's transport system I'm happy with that, because at the moment it's atrocious. I used to live on the North Shore and now I live in the city so it doesn't bother me as much because transport in the city is easier but for the shore, it was a nightmare."

Papakura man Caleb Brown said he thought the new tax was fair.

"I use all the roads so I should be paying for that and in Auckland we need more infrastructure. We don't have enough, and if it's going to cost more it's something that has to happen."

AA spokesman Barney Irvine said if motorists did not start seeing the benefits of the fuel tax, they would become more and more frustrated.

"All of this is asking a lot of motorists. Not only are they looking at a regional fuel tax, they're also looking at a hike in the national fuel tax of four cents a litre from next month, and on top of that we're seeing record-high fuel prices. So the onus is really on the council and government to deliver benefits."

Mr Irvine said the big question about fuel tax was whether fuel companies were passing on the cost of the tax in Auckland alone - or spreading it to other regions.

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