Mayor Wayne Brown warns National's plan to scrap Auckland regional fuel tax could leave $2 billion hole

Mayor Wayne Brown is calling for Auckland Council to be given more power, so Aucklanders don't face massive rate increases.   

It comes after it was revealed Aucklanders could be facing 13 percent rate hikes and a 20 percent rise for water bills next year.   

It's not the first time Aucklanders have faced steep rate hikes. Earlier this year, Auckland Council agreed on Brown's amended annual budget, which will see average residential rates rise by 7.7 percent.  

Brown told AM on Tuesday if councillors are not prepared to make cuts to services and sell assets, it could be bad news for Aucklanders.   

"If I can't get something done about things and if I can't get my councillors across the line to reduce some of their costs and sell a few things that is the situation," he said.  

Brown has written a manifesto calling for cross-party agreement on future planning and joined AM on Tuesday to discuss it. 

He told AM co-host Ryan Bridge he'd like Aucklanders and the Auckland Council to have more power, so they can generate more income.   

"We actually have less power than the mayor of Horowhenua, wherever, whatever that is," he said.   

"I think Aucklanders need more power, not me, but I'm the spokesperson for a third of the country and 40 percent of the GDP, and we send a lot more money to Wellington and we get back."   

A change of government could also make things worse, Brown said, citing National's plan to scrap the Regional Fuel Tax and Labour’s Three Waters reforms.   

He warns if National does scrap the Auckland Regional Fuel tax it could leave a $2 billion hole.   

"If you can the fuel tax, we've allowed that to fund things like the Eastern Busway, things which are needed and which people want," he said.   

"You make a great statement 'Oh I'm going to rid of the fuel tax'. Well, hang on, it's been committed. It's a bit like if you bought a house for $1 million. You've got to have $1 million available but the minute you sign it, it might be still in your bank, but effectively you've spent it."   

Brown said he has so little power to generate income that he can't even set parking fines.  

"You wonder why people pay parking. We get more from the fines than we do from the parking because they are so low. We can't even do that."   

Brown wants to implement "city deals" and pointed to how state and federal governments work together successfully in Australia on projects that are transformational.  

"I want to do a city deal about transport. I want a proper integrated transport plan. I don't want people putting their hand up and saying, 'This is a good idea. We're going to do a tunnel under the harbour'. We don't actually need a tunnel under the harbour and we can't afford a tunnel under the harbour. We don't need a tunnel under Mt Roskill and we can't afford that either," he said.  

"There's a lot of relatively cheap things we can do to improve our traffic and get the best value out the roads we've got. We don't have dynamic lanes."   

The Government released a 135-report called The Future for Local Government report - He piki tūranga, he piki kōtuku - earlier this year, which said the relationship between central government and local government needed to be improved to better serve New Zealand communities.  

Brown called on Wellington politicians to butt out of the city's affairs and believes fragmented decision-making and political meddling have stymied the city's growth. 

He told AM the report showed the Government don't pay rates, so Auckland is missing out on an estimated $150 million.   

"It also said why don't they give us the GST back on rates. That is the sort of stuff that happens in Sydney," Brown said.  

"The GST thing, which is something that they've recommended, is what happens in Australia and on top of that there's a legislation that we need. I can't, for instance, get my council to implement a bed tax and yet the hotels and AirBnB are quite happy to have it.   

"That's where you get the money so you can have big events because people say, 'Oh Sydney got $50 million a year for big events. Why haven't you got that?' Well, I haven't got the power to get it." 

Watch the full interview with wayne Brown in the video above.