Auckland fuel tax out; Goff looks for alternatives

Auckland mayor Phil Goff

Related audio: Steven Joyce tells NBR Auckland is running out of room to extend the roading network

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How should Auckland’s transport funding gap be bridged?

Regional fuel tax
23%
Tolls
38%
Congestion pricing
30%
Rates
9%
Total votes: 287

Auckland mayor Phil Goff’s major platform for funding the yearly $400 million shortfall for transport projects has been run off the road.

The government has ruled out a regional fuel tax, Mr Goff’s main hope for bridging the shortfall gap.

Finance Minister Steven Joyce said a regional fuel tax will not be introduced as "they are administratively difficult, prone to leakage and cost-spreading, and blur the accountabilities between central and local government."

Instead, Mr Joyce says the government will explore options with the council such as tolls and congestion pricing. Speaking to NBR after his first formal speech as the finance minister, Mr Joyce says Auckland is running out of room to extend the roading network after current projects are completed.

 The mayor says he is disappointed at the government's decision given the city’s worsening traffic congestion.

However, it should not have come as any surprise to Mr Goff.

When Auckland Council and the government agreed in September on a $24 billion package of transport projects in the next 10 years forming part of an $83 billion spend over the next three decades, Transport Minister Simon Bridges said at the time Mr Goff’s plans to introduce a fuel tax were not the preferred option of the government.

“We have to be careful about imposing new taxes on Aucklanders.”

Mr Bridges said he expected there was more likely to be a congestion tax but government mandarins and council staff had serious work to do on funding and “it is not about plugging the short-term revenue gap but changing the travelling public’s behaviours.”

Mr Goff says while the government has the power to rule out a fuel tax, it has a duty to the people of Auckland to come back to council with alternative solutions. 

“Aucklanders are fed up with sitting in their cars on the motorway for hours at a time. It’s lost time for them and lost productivity for the city,” Mr Goff says.

He says people want the government to work with the council to find an agreed solution. 

“In my view, a regional fuel tax is a fair, effective and efficient way of helping close the current $400 million a year gap in transport funding.”

Mr Joyce says the government will explore options with the Auckland Council such as tolls and congestion pricing.

Speaking to NBR after his first formal speech as the finance minister, Mr Joyce says Auckland is running out of room to extend the roading network after current projects are completed.

Mr Goff says putting the burden of resolving the transport funding deficit on to ratepayers will result in a rates increase of about 16% next year.

“I don’t intend to do that. Ratepayers have been shouldering the burden for too long. 

“We must find new revenue streams to fund our much-needed housing and transport infrastructure rather than continuing to load the cost of growth on ratepayers.”

The Auckland Transport Alignment Project has been a good start in getting the city and government working together, Mr Goff says.

"However, it doesn’t go far enough in solving Auckland’s congestion and already faces a funding gap of $4 billion over 10 years. We need a solution now and can’t afford to wait for another four to six years to deal with this problem.”

Despite the rebuff on major funding plank, Mr Goff says he is committed to working with the government to develop new transport funding measures.

“If it remains adamantly opposed to a regional fuel tax, the government need to urgently come up with another workable and sustainable solution,” he says.

On a separate issue, Mr Goff is to take a more hands-on approach to the $200 million Westgate town centre after the Auditor-General criticised the council's governance and transparency over the project. 

Mr Goff says he is taking the recommendations in the Auditor-General's report seriously and will use his call-in powers to bring the issue up to council's governing body for oversight, rather than have it be heard at a committee level.

Auditor General Lyn Provost says after looking into the governance of the project "the risks involved with this development warrant greater involvement by Auckland Council's governing body.”

She also urged the council to release information on the project, even the legal report from crown solicitors Meredith Connell, on a development Ms Provost says is different from that normally seen between a council and private developer New Zealand Retail Property Group.

Mr Goff says because of commercial sensitivity, the project will be discussed behind closed doors at the government body meeting, but information will be made public afterwards. 

 


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"The mayor says he is disappointed at the decision given the city’s worsening traffic congestion."

Translation - "I am now going to have to raise Auckland rates way beyond what I promised to cap them at. I can kiss goodbye to a 2nd term."

There is also a little saying I'd like to put in here which Mr Goff can go back on later down the track:

"You know, when they forced Khruschev out, he sat down and wrote two letters to his successor. He said - "When you get yourself into a situation you can't get out of, open the first letter, and you'll be safe. When you get yourself into another situation you can't get out of, open the second letter". Well, soon enough, this guy found himself into a tight place, so he opened the first letter. Which said - "Blame everything on me". So he blames the old man, it worked like a charm. He got himself into a second situation he couldn't get out of, he opened the second letter. It said - "Sit down, and write two letters".

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Time to limit immigration or at lease smooth it out.
I take over 1 hour to get home on the bus (with bus lanes), use to take 1/2 hour ten years ago.

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SOLUTION. Move to Greymouth

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Congestion is easily resolved in Auckland. $billions ought to be slashed. Sure it may conflict with the UNitary plan, but there is no need to punish rate payers anymore.

1. Remove most traffic lights on major roads.
2. Install roundabouts.
3. Get rid or seriously reduce buses.
4. If not 3, then free up bus lanes so cars can use them. What a total mindless initiative that was.
5. Create red routes or constant clear ways. No stopping o. Designated routes including buses (for the few that take buses, clogging up or creating congestion for thousands is silly).
6. Get rid of those costly on-ramp traffic cloggers. Waste of time.
7. Sort of phasing on remaining traffic lights. Whoever programmed them must have been reading Agenda 21.
8. Educate kiwi drivers! Help them to understand that there is no 5 second waiting law before engaging brain when light goes green. Also, help them understand that it's ok to drive in rain. And a roundabout implies you can go around it.
9. Abandon idea of trains. Save $billions. Driving hours in to get an infrequent train to nowhere useful is the symbol of councils / governments in la la land.

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Tolls and congestion pricing instead.

Thanks, Stephen!

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http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11802027 ... Government 'open to introduction of electronic road tolling in Auckland' ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_electronic_toll_collection_systems ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_toll_collection ... between 2004 and 2005, Santiago, Chile implemented the world's first 100% full speed electronic tolling with transponders, crossing through the city's core (CBD) in a system of several concessioned urban freeways ... https://ppiaf.org/sites/ppiaf.org/files/documents/toolkits/highwaystoolk... ... the electronic free-flow tele-toll inter-operable collection system, "Televía", allows users to avoid stopping when paying the toll, passing under a portico that permits information to be exchanged for automatic invoicing. To use it, they must sign a contract with one of the concessionaires. At the end of each month, users receive a bill for the service at their postal or electronic mail addresses. Occasional users and/or those who do not live in the city can buy a day pass ...

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The get more than enough taxes etc already. These wastrels have to learn to live within OUR budgets. Tax and waste is all they know. Problem is Auckland ratepayers have suffered incompetent governance for 40 years. My rates have risen 400% of inflation and wages and salary increases over that time and nothing to show for it except lack of infrastructure. Decades of misfeasance in public office by an endless stream of incompetents.

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or the government could just fund it properly and get on with it. I'll forgo my tax cut thanks, just fix the gridlock.

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The govt...really!? They are broke as it is and the only way the infrastructure is going to happen is a combination of much higher rates and taxes. Tax cuts should happen, as we are too highly taxed even by socialist standards and this is slowly killing the real economy. The positive news is that as interest rates rise as well and all these new taxes/rates come into play we should be looking at some very "affordable" housing in the not too distant future. The govt and council can at least then claim a "victory" on that battle front...should be an amusing show, I'm sure.

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We need to stop paying unneeded social welfare to millionaires. This over the top socialism of paying pensions to landed millionaires is ridiculous. We could be saving a massive amount of money and allowing hardworkers to keep their own earnings if we didn't insist on blanket social welfare for rich old folks.

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So allow a tax rebate to those who opt out of receiving superannuation? Is that what you want?
Or alternatively , a dedicated personal superannuation account where the payout depends on the level of contribution?
You want that ?

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Costs more to be a top international city. You don't get those soaring property values without increasing costs.

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Get rid of ATEED. There's a large chunk of your funding shortfall right there.

Now fire everyone in Auckland City Council IT (except for 10 or so box monkey's who can unpack boxes and plug in computers) and outsource it to India - they can't do worse than the current shower of crap and will be vastly cheaper. There's another big chunk of change.

Lose the retarded idea of light rail - there hasn't been a light rail project anywhere in the western world in the last 20 years that has matched up with the highly imaginative rider numbers or come in on or under budget.

Keep sorting through the rest of the over-bloated council staff and suddenly you won't need rates rises or taxes.
[Edited]

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I think you are factually incorrect regarding light rail rider numbers. E.g. you need only look as far as the Gold Coast “Figures show 6.18 million trips were made on the 13km system across 365 days — or around 18,200 trips each day. This was far beyond the 5.70 million expected before launch”, reference http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/news/traffic-reports/link-hits-the-g...

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According to Wiki, estimated cost was 1.2 billion, actual cost was 1.6 billion. But hey, what's $400 million between friends.

It was also listed as an example of what not to do for the Sydney Light Rail project.

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box monkey's -> box monkeys ... ; "fly dirt" - I think your punctuation's incorrect ...

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What, and y'all think the Unitary Plan, the city's salvation, is going to make the traffic congestion any better? LOL. The smart money is getting out of Dodge.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_road_tolling ... 1998, Singapore was the first city in the world to implement an electronic road toll collection system for congestion pricing ... ; ORT has opened up the feasibility of implementing congestion pricing policies in urban areas ...

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I, for one, would be happy to live in an intensified area close to a public transport option. The alternative of being a San Francisco without the salaries seems like muppetry of the highest order.

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" Bring back LEN!" at least he liked the Chinese who invest in much needed infrastructure and hopefully expand their banking system and funding in New Zealand.

Goff panders to the Aussie NZ Banks who have stopped lending to New Zealand businesses for much needed building and infrastructure recently. Remember the Xenophobia dished out by the Labor party and now ironically we need Chinese Banking Investment big time to save the New Zealand economy.

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There's one sock puppet, wonder how far behind the others are...

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http://www.theigc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Fischer-2011-Working-Pa... ... the advantage of PPPs is that they bundle investment, operations and maintenance, thus reducing life-cycle costs of an infrastructure facility. In the case of highway PPPs, the continuous maintenance of the road is the main advantage; the first problem that faces a prospective user of PPPs is that, contrary to intuition, they do not provide additional resources; ... another important problem is that the large increase in public infrastructure activity associated to PPP programs can lead to organizational problems in the PPP unit. In Chile they eventually to a corruption scandal that brought an end to the PPP process for several years, while reforms were carried out; renegotiations of contracts are a third important problem - ... they are expensive and have serious consequences for the sector ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public%E2%80%93private_partnership ... http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11188937 ... Len Brown: Six strategies for 2014: Auckland can be in the same class as cities such as Sydney and Singapore within a decade ...

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(Edited) Grumpy Kiwi, you are on the money.
Key, as a parting gift to Goff and the ratepayers should have sent in the commissioners and flushed the obsturdtions.
It needs something drastic. the goons ran wild for six long years under Clown.

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Why doesn't the NBR poll below offer the option
"None of the above,cut waste",as suggested by the majority of your commentators,and I suggest ,what your readers think.
Otherwise the poll is irrelevant and misleading.

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There is already a fuel tax for Auckland, and it is paid by South Islanders at the pump. As we pay more for our fuel, the GST take is larger on our purchases, so the South Island is indirectly paying for Auckland

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Add a 15-20% stamp duty on foreign buyers in Auckland. This will help pay for some of the infrastructure without unduly burdening local ratepayers.

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There is already a fuel tax for Auckland, and it is paid by South Islanders at the pump. As we pay more for our fuel, the GST take is larger on our purchases, so the South Island is indirectly paying for Auckland

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The government is hands on at turning the immigration tap on full bore, but hands off at dealing with the multitude of massive issues it's creating.

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The local Government could have all the money it needs if it moved away from the unfair rates system of revenue collection and instead used a council tax. Once all Aucklanders are paying the fair share, two solutions appear: 1. Income increases 2. Those not currently paying (but voting), lose interest in expensive vanity projects

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Simple. The government should draw a 30 kilometre diameter circle around central Auckland. And re zone all residential, commercial, and industrial land inside that circle to high density. As a big part of the transport problem is people being forced to live far away from their workplace. Due to high house prices and rents.

Solve the housing problem and you will solve half the transport problem. And those extra houses will mean extra rates. Extra houses also means a lot more tax to the government. Work out how much GST the government gets for each new house built. Then imagine if 40,000 houses got built each year. Then add in the extra PAYE and company tax. And the saving from less government spending on the accommodation supplement.

That is a massive amount of money the government is missing out on just because of stupid council policies. So the whole country suffers just because National doesn't want to annoy Epsom voters.

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>So the whole country suffers just because National doesn't want to annoy Epsom voters.

That basically summarises the last three terms of National government. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

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Can someone clarify please - I believe a regional tax on fuel was put in some time ago in Auckland for previous expenditure gaps, was it ever removed?

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Stick to core infrastructure, and ditch all other departments. The Council does not need ATEED or any other PR consultants. Start with that waste and keep pruning. Does Goff have the guts for this?

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The Labour Government back in 2001 / 2002 implemented two lots of 5 cents a litre increase on the price of petrol for Auckland's roads, Goff was a minister at the time, so a question for him, why was the money raised then not spent on Auckland's roads?

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Probably because it got spent on propping up the South Island.

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On the money, so to speak Bob. But the real question surely has to be "why do Aucklanders continually vote in dead set useless councils." Is it because Aucklanders, like the Auckland councillors, have a huge sense of entiltleitiss?

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Re: Phillip
Nope; it is because all candidates are a bunch of no-hopers and the Council is controlled by heavily unionised bureaucrats and staff. Effectively this means that no matter who you vote in absolutely nothing will happen except more of your money will flow into the back pockets of people who a couple of hundred years ago would be wandering around the village wearing a dunce's hat.

The only sensible thing to do in this situation is to use your democratic right to say "bugger it" and just not bother voting. It would appear that more and more of us choose to do this.

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This the same council that controls Auckland Transport - a faceless pack of bureaucrats who have decided they need to move into the prime high visibility downtown Vodafone viaduct site....despite having no competition and not needing "commercial profile" of any sort.

Interestingly Vodafone are moving out and constructing their own building since the landlord DOUBLED the rent of the building making it uneconomic for one of the worlds largest Telco's.....

But AT see no problem with this and are happy to spend all OUR money on new incredibly expensive offices.

I've also know they are spending a fortune on the interior fit out and not following best practice in the procurement of technology for this site and not following normal tender process to get the best price - its been handwritten for a particular vendor.....

This council and its associated divisions are a runaway train spending our rates money and now want more.

The supercity has delivered nothing it has promised..

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Hello,

I would like to discuss this with you further. Please contact me at either 09 9122720 or my cellphone 021 2804641.

Thank you. 

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What do you expect? If they were following the rules and trying to get best value for our rates then I would probably collapse in a heap in shock!

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Here are some facts:

"Auckland Transport Chief Financial Officer Richard Morris says this location will give AT a cost-effective solution for its accommodation requirements, with expected savings of close to a million dollars in the first year alone.

Reducing space and costs

Auckland Transport’s staff are currently spread across 19 buildings with multiple leases, some of which are about to expire.

Mr Morris says the Fanshawe Street building has 14,000 square metres of open plan floor space spread over six levels and that offers flexible and efficient work spaces.

“It is not expensive compared to a new building or other existing offices in or around the CBD. The building is 12 years old.

“We will be reducing our overall space requirements by around 2500 square metres, as well as making savings in areas such as cleaning, electricity, IT and maintenance.”

Mr Morris adds that leasing rather than purchasing space reduces the organisation’s financial risk."

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Strange problem for a small country and city to have. Auckland is such a tiny city but has so many problems. Instead of wasting money putting makeup on the pig (Auckland) the government needs to provide incentives for companies to move operations and staff around the country. It would be cheaper in the short and long run and provide people with between lifestyles - cheaper houses, shorter commutes, more competitive air services, etc. A country with many smaller cities is better than one with a large inefficient city. The thought that Auckland will ever be a World Class city is laughable. It's not even in the top 300 of the world currently and will only keep on sinking down the food chain and the East rises.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auckland_Region ... the isthmus of Auckland ... http://www.cornerstonedevelopments.co.nz/announcements/how-conurbation-w... ... the Auckland “Super-City” is now a complete conurbation; the Waikato may look like it in the future, ... merging in the north towards Huntly, in the east as far as the Kaimai Ranges and south as far as…. who knows how far! ... http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/89484610/rampant-growth-putting-pressure... ... Waikato is facing rampant growth, as people flood in from the regions and Auckland's exiles spill south from the Bombays; ... economic development on the upper North Island hinges on good transport planning ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transportation_planning ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conurbation ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waikato_Expressway ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wellington_Region ... covers the conurbation around the capital city, Wellington, and the cities of Lower Hutt, Porirua, and Upper Hutt ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kapiti_Expressway ...

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This is all well and good thinking of ways to tax Aucklanders to raise more money for the council to spend as they see fit, I still don't know if we have a rock solid solution to the problems we face with congestion. Im pretty sure its not a train and I'm absolutely sure I don't trust Phil and his crew to be in charge of the solution and more especially to be in charge of the spending our money in a prudent fashion their track record is abysmal in that regard.

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