Motorists brace for higher fuel taxes while the govt paves the way for more cycling

Motorists  will be  bracing themselves   for another round of petrol price increases—not  only  because  the   government is  increasing petrol tax  by 3.5c a litre on  October  1,  but  also  because international crude prices are rising  and the  NZ  dollar  has depreciated around  13%  since March.

Prices  for  West Texas  and  Brent crude  have risen  between  35%  and  40%  since   this time  last year.  At the pump  the national fuel price last month  for  91 octane  was  $2.32 a  litre,  with  prices of up to  $2.50 in some regions.

Stations in Wellington and many parts of the South Island, and other areas which use the so-called “national price”, are now charging $2.409 a litre for regular petrol, the latest in a series of record highs seen in recent weeks.

Diesel prices, at $1.809, are at the highest level in just over a decade.

Brent crude, the international benchmark for crude oil, climbed above US$81 a barrel. Some traders are speculating oil could return to $US100 a barrel in the coming months.

Auckland   commuters  will be doing it particularly hard  as  they refuel  because of the  impact of the  11.5c a  litre  regional   fuel  tax.

But are they worse off than motorists elsewhere?

Surely  the  rest of the country  is  not subsidising them?

Road  Transport Forum CEO   Ken Shirley this week told TVNZ1’s Breakfast  programme the falling NZ dollar and global geopolitical issues have led to  fluctuations in oil prices but New Zealanders in many parts of the country pay more than Aucklanders at the pump despite the 11.5c/litre tax in the country’s biggest city.

 “The whole Auckland regional fuel tax is a political sham, it’s done for political reasons to make it appear that the revenue is coming out of Auckland but in fact we all know it’s being spread across the whole country.  Many parts of the country are paying 20 cents more than the market up there (in Auckland) so we do get fuel tax spreading, regional variations, that’s not surprising.”

Is it  time for  the   government to call for  another  inquiry  into the pricing  regimes  of  petrol  resellers  by the  Commerce Commission?

Perhaps  ministers  worry  the government will  suffer  a  backlash  from  the  impact of rising  petrol  taxes.

 According to  Shirley:

“We’re now going to see road user and motorist taxes which previously had been going into improving the highways being diverted into other uses.  Now that’s a first and it is a concern, there’s actually been an 11%  cut in the highway budget in the government policy statement for NZTA.

“This is why I object to money being spent on stealing the roads I pay for to give to cyclists who don’t pay any road user charges, or ACC levies or any other costs for the roads they are using.  People are getting angry.”

They are especially angry – he notes – when they must navigate their way around while avoiding trespassing on to “stupid cycleways” when there isn’t a cyclist in evidence.

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