I was pleased to see the Coalition Government call time on the Auckland regional fuel tax this week.

With inflation persistently high and placing strain on businesses, it’s right for the Government to cut costs until economic conditions improve. During a cost-of-living crisis, it’s difficult to argue Auckland Transport needs the cash more than everyday motorists.

Transporting New Zealand has always been critical of regional fuel taxation. It is inefficient and unfair. As noted by the Ministry of Transport when the legislation was first introduced, the hike in fuel prices posed risks to fuel-dependent businesses and the well-being of poorer households.

The adverse effects of the tax weren’t confined to Auckland either. Fuel companies had the option to spread the added tax burden nationwide, particularly affecting less competitive rural areas with fewer retailers.

Auckland Council will be left with over $300 million of unspent tax revenue to complete several key projects while they work with central government to develop alternative funding methods and identify savings.

There’s no getting away from it – the removal of the fuel tax will leave a funding gap. We need to be given all potential alternatives a fair hearing. This includes tools like congestion charging, tolling, public private partnerships, and additional borrowing. Transporting New Zealand will closely monitor any proposals to ensure they maintain efficient freight movement.

When it comes to cost-saving measures, reining in Auckland Transport’s programme of expensive raised pedestrian platforms should be top of the list.

Both Auckland’s Mayor and the Transport Minister agree these platforms are a poor use of resources. Not only are they expensive, they also prolong journey times and increase fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

Local councils and central government need to stick to the essentials, particularly road resurfacing and pavement rehabilitation.

NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi acknowledges it hasn’t been able to deliver adequate maintenance. This week’s disruption in Tauranga, where commuters were urged to stay off the roads during urgent repairs to State Highway 29A, underscores the necessity for a back-to-basics approach towards transport investment.

Transporting New Zealand will keep pushing this message to government.

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