Yes it's a tax.
The Prime Minister can dance on the head of a pin as much as she likes in a weak bid to defend hiking the petrol tax but she's going to get nowhere. The damage is done.
This will hurt Labour in a huge way.
Here's the problem. Jacinda Ardern and her finance minister promised no new taxes under Labour.
This is what Grant Robertson said in September last year: "There will be no new taxes or levies introduced in our first term of Government beyond those we have already announced."
When challenged about this new tax, Ardern said it's not new, the levy has been around for ages and National hiked it plenty when it was in government.
And she says it's not a tax, it's an excise.
Firstly is it a tax? Yes it's a tax.
An excise is, and I'm quoting from a dictionary, a TAX levied on certain goods and commodities produced or sold within a country and on licences granted for certain activities. So yes, it's a tax.
Is it new?
Of course it's new. Today I'm not paying that extra 9-12 cents in tax. When it comes into force, I will be paying it - it's new. It's an added tax on my income. The idea might not be new but that bit of tax I'm paying? That's new.
If she hikes GST to 20 per cent… is that new? Yes.
If she hikes the capital gains tax which already exists… will that be new? Yes,
If she hikes corporate tax… will that be a new tax? Yes.
Because it's a tax you're not paying now. It's a new one.
I cannot actually believe that this is the level of the argument we're having. That is how crap the PM's defence of this tax is.
It's weak, totally flimsy. And you know what that tells you?
This is the day Labour lost the 2020 election. Because people don't care what beltway issues Labour has to fight fires on but they do care when those issues start hitting them in the pocket.
And this issue is not just going to hit some of us in the pocket, it's going to hit all of us in the pocket.
So when you fill your car up and you're paying $2.30 instead of $2.10, you'll know who to blame - Labour.
Not a smart political move.