Auckland mayoral candidates mull petrol tax hike

Phil Goff (Simon Wong)
Phil Goff (Simon Wong)

Aucklanders could be facing an increase in petrol prices to help pay for the city's growth.

Mayoral hopeful Phil Goff told The Nation the Government has given him the green light for a regional petrol tax, if he's elected.

With an extra 117 people every day - that's 1 million more in the coming decades - Auckland's growth is pushing housing and transport to the brink.

The problem for the next mayor is how to keep up.

Each of the top four mayoral candidates has pledged strict limits on rate increases, between 2 and 2.5 percent.

That's not enough to pay for the city's needs, so how can Auckland afford to grow?

Vic Crone has promised $500 million in savings can be found in the council's 10-year budget.

Orakei local board member Mark Thomas wants $1.2 billion worth of asset sales.

"What I'm going to do is ask Aucklanders to give me permission to swap half the value of the airport shares, and the port operating company," says Mr Thomas.

Businessman John Palino says the Government should pay.

"The ratepayers should not be paying for Auckland's growth."

Labour MP Phil Goff agrees.

"If Central Government is taking the GST and the income tax from the 50 to 60 percent of growth of New Zealand happening in Auckland, they are obliged to return that money back."

But Mr Goff also wants new ways to raise funds through congestion charges and a petrol tax. Though the Government once ruled out both, Mr Goff claims he's got the go-ahead from National.

But Transport Minister Simon Bridges denies that, telling Newshub in a statement: "The Government has no interest in introducing regional petrol taxes."

Ms Crone, who managed accountancy firm Xero, says Mr Goff's campaign is short on sums.

"He's talking Government paying, but he won't give a number. He's talking about a congestion tax, but he won't give a number. He's talking about a petrol tax, but he won't give a number."

Mr Goff says those details would have to be negotiated, but he did give one big number today - 1 million. That's the number of trees he's promised to plant in the next three years if elected mayor.