Govt to end Auckland fuel tax, prioritise roading projects

In News5 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineFebruary 9, 2024

The Auckland Regional Fuel Tax will end on 30 June 2024, Transport Minister Simeon Brown has confirmed.

Legislation will be introduced to parliament to repeal the tax as part of the coalition government’s 100 Day Plan.

“Since 1 July 2018, Aucklanders have faced an additional 11.5 cents per litre tax on fuel, over and above what the rest of the country pays, increasing the cost of living at a time when they can least afford it,” Brown said.

“Ending this tax is one way to reduce the price of fuel and ease some of the financial pressure facing households in our largest city.

“Fuel tax is becoming an increasingly regressive form of taxation and costs people on lower incomes with less fuel-efficient vehicles more than those who have newer more fuel-efficient vehicles. We intend to fully remove the legislative framework for regional fuel taxes.”

As of September 2023, around $780 million in Regional Fuel Tax revenue had been raised, with approximately $341 million remaining unspent (the equivalent of more than two years’ worth of revenue).

“The RFT was supposed to help fund important projects like Mill Road and Penlink. While Mill Road was cancelled, and Penlink received full Crown funding, Auckland Transport has used RFT revenue to fund many non-roading projects including more cycle lanes, redlight cameras, speed humps, and lowering speed limits across the city,” Brown said.

Brown said he has signalled to Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown the government’s intention that RFT revenue is to be spent on projects that are of “mutual priority to the Government and Auckland Council”. These projects include the Eastern Busway, City Rail Link electric trains and stabling, road corridor improvements, and some growth-related transport infrastructure.

Legislation removing the RFT will require Auckland Transport to only be able to use the remaining RFT revenue and unspent funds towards delivering these projects.

“The Coalition Government is committed to working with Auckland Council to ensure we build the infrastructure Auckland needs, and at the same time unlock the funding and financing tools they need to help fund their share,” Brown said.

“The Government has committed to working closely with the Mayor and Auckland Council to pass legislation allowing

Brown said time of use charging will be introduced in Auckland, and the potential use of value capture, tolling, and the use of public-private partnerships, among others, may be introduced as tools to help deliver new infrastructure.

“For the period between the RFT ending on 30 June 2024, and time of use charging becoming available, we’ll be focused on ensuring priority projects continue to be funded and delivered from remaining RFT revenue,” he said.

“The Government is also working on the draft Government Policy Statement on Land Transport, which will be released in coming weeks as part of our 100 day plan.”

National Road Carriers Association said it is welcoming the Government’s plans to prioritise funding for roading projects.

GM Policy & Advocacy James Smith said the road funding model based on FED is “clearly broken” and is not bringing in enough to cover maintenance of existing roading.

He said public private partnerships (PPPs), road tolls, and value capture also all need to be part of the mix to fund desperately needed new highways.

“Road freight operators will want to see a charging system, where all beneficiaries of the road network pay their fair share,” said Smith.

“While it makes sense that charging is calculated on weight and kilometres travelled, with 93% of goods delivered by road it’s important this funding is set right so it doesn’t distort the cost of goods.”

Smith said prioritising funding to maintain and build new roads, and reducing congestion via time of use charging will deliver efficiency gains and attracting new funding through PPPs and other means will reduce the total burden being placed on road users.

“Not wasting money on raised pedestrian crossings that get dug up less than a year later can only be a good thing,” he said.

“Restoring efficiency and productivity gains to our transport projects is critical. The Government is signalling its intent to re-balance productivity with the previous Government’s safety and emissions reduction initiatives, which have received too