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Barrier drivers get a break

Fuel tax exemption supported

Published: 23 April 2018

Great Barrier Island could be exempted from a regional fuel tax.

Auckland Council has debated its submission to the government legislation that allows councils to introduce fuel taxes to fund infrastructure.

The tax, due to be implemented on July 1, received 52 per cent support from Aucklanders in a recent Colmar Brunton poll but the council wants to be able to exempt “specific geographic locations”.

There has been widespread opposition to the tax on Great Barrier, where a litre of 91 unleaded costs about a dollar more than it does in the city.

Great Barrier Local Board Chair Izzy Fordham says fuel is a major cost for residents and is becoming unaffordable for some, so she is delighted council supports an exemption.

"We need to congratulate councillors for listening to the feedback and understanding the unique position of our island," she says.

Mayor Phil Goff says the poll showed an understanding that Auckland needs to invest more in transport.

The tax could generate $200 million a year, attracting a one-for-one subsidy from the National Land Transport Fund, that over a decade would amount to $4 billion.

"That is a major sum of money that is important to progressing a better system for Auckland. To raise that through rates would result in an increase of around 13 per cent this year. Doing nothing would gridlock Auckland," says Mayor Goff.

Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore said more money for the transport network was a priority and a regional fuel tax was fairer, and a more user-pays system, but the council’s submission would ask for the ability to make exemptions.

Project spending details are still to be released, but the whole region will also be affected by a proposed central government fuel tax increase of up to 12 cents a litre to fund transport plans mainly centred on road safety and rapid rail.