By RNZ

The National Party wants the Government to put off a four cent petrol tax increase and the road user charges scheduled to begin in July.

The opposition argued the charges should be deferred while the light rail project is delayed.

National leader Simon Bridges said given the unprecedented economic situation resulting from Covid-19, the government should give motorists a break rather than hitting them in the back pocket.

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"The Government introduced three years of annual tax increases to pay for its beleaguered Auckland light rail pet project that has gone absolutely nowhere since Jacinda Ardern promised it on the 2017 campaign trail."

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Bridges said if the Government does not defer the petrol tax increase, then it will be a clear signal that "Labour's plan to repay the massive debt it's taking on is more tax".

However, the Government said it will not be putting off this year's petrol tax increase, despite calls to do so from the National Party.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the light rail project was about to go to Cabinet when Covid hit.

"While the Government has been totally focused on fighting the virus and didn't have the bandwidth earlier to consider the light rail proposal, it is going to Cabinet shortly," he said.

He said cutting this year's petrol tax increase would mean massive cuts to roading and public transport projects throughout the country.

"New Zealanders understand their petrol taxes pay for roads and public transport, they want the government to get on with fixing their neglected roads, easing congestion and building a modern and sustainable transport network."

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He noted the National government raised petrol excise six times and that the current Government has already announced it will not be raising fuel tax next term.

- RNZ