Fuel taxes being introduced by a Labour-led Government and Auckland's Labour mayor Phil Goff are taking food off the table for the poor, says a social agency.

Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) said fuel taxes by their nature are hitting low-income families the hardest.

The comments come as motorists feel the sting of regular petrol reaching $2.40 a litre in some parts of Auckland after Goff successfully introduced an 11.5c a litre regional fuel tax to boost spending on transport.

The beautifully rendered pictures of young professionals cycling that accompanied the Government's medium-density housing projects often exclusively portray higher-income neighbourhoods such as Grey Lynn and Mt Eden

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Next month, motorists will pay more at the pump when the Government introduces a 4c a litre excise tax nationwide. Two more planned increases will take the tax to about 10c a litre.

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"A low-income family, living in a public transport-deprived area and dependent on an old vehicle to get around, will be paying a higher proportion of their income towards fuel compared to a family living in an area that already enjoys a greater degree of public transport and proximity to schools and workplaces," said AAAP co-ordinator Ricardo Menendez-March.

His comments mirror a report last month from the body that promotes issues for Māori to Auckland Council.

The Independent Maori Statutory Board (IMSB) report showed annual fuel cost increases could be as much as $366 for lower-income households, and an additional $452 if the fuel efficiency of low-income households' vehicles was considered.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Auckland mayor Phil Goff are refusing to comment.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Auckland mayor Phil Goff are refusing to comment.

The board said the council and Government must find ways to offset the fuel tax's impact on low-income Auckland households, particularly Māori in the region's south and west.

Menendez-March said the fuel taxes are funding much-needed public transport projects costing billions of dollars that do not address geographical inequities which have pushed Māori, Pasifika and other migrant communities from the central suburbs to the south.

"The beautifully rendered pictures of young professionals cycling that accompanied the Government's medium-density housing projects often exclusively portray higher-income neighbourhoods such as Grey Lynn and Mt Eden.

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28 Sep, 2018 6:05am
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"Meanwhile, communities in South Auckland happen to be the ones that would benefit the most from increased access to public transport and investment," he said.

Menendez-March said the fuel tax is neither fair nor creative and he believed the Labour Party and its government partners should re-evaluate the budget responsibility rules that limit borrowing and consider a wealth tax.

"Solutions to traffic should never have to deprive low-income families of their ability to move around or put food on the table," he said.

Spokespeople for Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Goff said they would not be commenting on the AAAP opinion piece.

Last month Twyford said the IMSB report was out of date and did not take into account the Government's Families Package introduced in July that gave 384,000 low-income families with children an average of $75 extra per week.