The decision to rule out any new regional fuel taxes was made just hours before Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the surprise announcement in Parliament yesterday.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford told RNZ Ardern called him late yesterday morning to discuss the idea of ruling out the new taxes.

Not long after their call, Ardern told Parliament there would be "no other regional fuel taxes while I am Prime Minister".

This came as a surprise to Associate Transport Minister Shane Jones – who was answering questions on behalf of Twyford in the House – who said he had learned of Ardern's decision when she made it in Parliament.


Twyford admitted Jones should have been informed of the decision and said this was a "glitch on our part".

Jones said yesterday it was not an issue that he didn't know about the decision, as the
Prime Minister was in charge and "when you're in charge, take charge".

Twyford told RNZ that Ardern wanted to get his perspective on ruling out any new regional fuel taxes before she made the announcement.

"We had a conversation about it and agreed to give some certainty to people, in light of the scaremongering we have seen from the Opposition, that it would be better to just rule out future regional fuel taxes."

He said the Government had never had a plan to implement any future regional fuel taxes and the Prime Minister's view had always been Auckland's should be the only one.

This was despite the fact that under the legislation, other regions would be able to seek approval from the Government for their own regional tax from 2021.

Twyford said Ardern's decision was not U-turn from the Government.

He said the Government wanted to keep the legislation flexible enough in case any future Government wanted to implement further regional fuel taxes.


Ardern yesterday said she decided to make the announcement for the sake of clarity after the Opposition had been spreading "utterly incorrect and false" information.

National Leader Simon Bridges said he had been told the Government had been in discussions with Wellington City Council over a regional fuel tax.

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester took to Twitter yesterday and said this was not true.
Twyford also denied Bridges' claim.

"A number of Councils had raised it in the media; I think two or three mayors raised it with me in person, but I have ruled it out."