The Labour led Government must be wondering whether it can do anything right at the moment.

They obviously decided to start this week, out of the Easter break, with a big ticket policy, and an appropriate one considering eight people were killed on our roads over the weekend, the worst fatality rate over that period in almost a decade.

So standing proudly on stage with the Prime Minister, showing solidarity about tackling the toll was the Transport Minister Phil Twyford and his two associates, the Greens' Julie-Anne Genter and Shane Jones from New Zealand First.

So solid was Jones on his commitment to reducing the toll he even said some of his $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund could be used for improving our roads.


But during the course of the united front for a very worthwhile cause, to ensure fewer people are killed on our roads, there was a three-letter word mentioned by Jacinda Ardern that always raises the hackles - tax.

She stammered it down saying excise tax on petrol would be raised by nine to 12 cents a litre over the next three years - reminding us the last Government raised it six times which at least means they went three years without raising it.

As the howls went up about new taxes and Labour campaign promises not to raise tax Twyford moved the next day to play it down, using "an average" 50-litre petrol tank to show that a fortnightly fill up wouldn't cost more than a cup of coffee a week.

His average car wouldn't be much bigger than a Mini, and the fact is that if you are a farmer in Southland you'd be travelling greater distances and therefore paying more than an Auckland motorist to unclog the roads there.

But in fairness to Labour, raising the petrol excise tax isn't a new tax anymore than raising alcohol and tobacco levies is. In their election policy manifesto, there for all to read, they mentioned all three taxes saying they'd be adjusted, which is the normal government practice.

At least it gives them an out even if the perception, created during the campaign when the dirty tax word began to dominate, was there would be any increases.

In the same manifesto they talked about regional fuel tax and how they'd make provision for the Auckland Council to implement one to get their dire transport system moving. They added a rider though that Labour doesn't have any plans for any other regional fuel taxes.

Bit in their legislation just past its first reading, provision is made for all councils to grab tax from motorists - so much for their plans.


If it's any consolation, New Zealand comes in at the fifth lowest excise tax on fuel in the OECD, but still it's almost four times higher than they pay in the States.