With petrol prices reaching record levels, Kiwis are justifiably worried about how to pay for filling up their vehicles.
The Government can do something about this and should do something about these prices. It has very strong surplus created by the previous Government and so should be making it easier for New Zealanders, not making it harder through new taxes.
Already, every time we put $1 of fuel into our cars, 53 cents of that is going straight into the Government's back pocket.
Since the election, petrol prices have increased by 42 cents a litre on average. With this month's 3.5 cent hike, plus GST on the fuel price increase, the Government is netting $220 million a year at current prices. Two more excise tax hikes are planned for the next two years.
With over $1.30 per litre of fuel cost going to the Government in taxes, now is not the time to continually increase taxes. The recent 3.5 cent increase accompanied with a GST component is certainly not needed.
The regional fuel tax of 10c per litre imposed on Auckland is disturbing because now Hamilton wants to do the same thing.
There is a rule in transport policy called hypothecation — dollars earned in petrol taxes are reinvested into the national transport budget to build roads, rail, cycling and other projects.
In recent years, the Waikato has received our percentage of the transport budget through the $2 billion Waikato Expressway development. This stops in 2020 because the current Government has stopped the Cambridge to Piarere extension of the expressway.
With completion of the Hamilton and Huntly bypasses in 2020, the Waikato has no major projects beyond that date.
The $450 million extension project over three years from 2020 onwards would have enabled the Waikato to have continued to have our share from 2020 onwards.
The practical reality of this is that from 2020 onwards Waikato motorists will be paying over $1.30 of taxes at the pump to fund a tram from Auckland Airport to downtown Auckland.
There will be neither a social nor economic benefit to our region from this spending in Auckland.
The principle of hypothecation of transport spending will not directly benefit Hamiltonians as we will be funding a rail project outside of our region.
The lack of central government investment in road projects in our region then leads to local government wanting additional sources of revenue to accommodate their road-project wish lists.
This means HCC will continue to advocate for a regional fuel tax when our local body politicians should instead be pressing the Government to ensure we get our fair share of the national land transport spend.
With the average New Zealand household now paying $200 more a year in petrol taxes than this time last year, enough is enough, and if we are going to pay such high taxes on vehicles then we want that money spent in our region on our roads, and not rail projects in another region.