Government handing out fuel tax tips to councils

The Government's giving advice to councils on how they can implement a regional fuel tax.

Aucklanders are paying an extra 11.5c a litre (including GST) under the tax. Other councils are locked out until 2021, but many want in.

Documents released to Newshub show Transport Minister Phil Twyford encouraged Hamilton City Council to pursue the idea with officials to increase the likelihood of a successful application.

"If in the future Hamilton City or the Waikato region wish to seek a regional fuel tax, I would encourage you to engage with officials at the Ministry of Transport. Officials will be able to provide guidance for any future applications including the matters that will need to be considered and addressed to increase the likelihood of an application being approved," said Mr Twyford.

A letter from Phil Twyford to Hamilton Mayor Andrew King.
A letter from Phil Twyford to Hamilton Mayor Andrew King. Photo credit: Supplied

Hamilton City Council thinks it can get ahead of the legislation, confirming to Newshub it's currently engaging with Ministry of Transport officials to implement its own regional fuel tax.

Growth and infrastructure committee chair Dave MacPherson thinks a fuel tax could be in place from next year.

"Our need is not in 2021; it's in 2019. In fact, it's in 2018," he told Newshub.

"We believe we can put up a sufficiently good case to the Government to consider it earlier than the 2021 year. That would mean three years of worsening congestion and insufficient alternatives like public transport and decent cycling facilities. I think our case is at least as good as Auckland's and certainly by 2021 it could be greater."

It comes after Newshub revealed at least 14 councils across the country have discussed the possibility of implementing a regional fuel tax.

In December last year, Hamilton City Council made its case to the Transport Minister to be able to implement a fuel tax.

"It is estimated that council could raise $10 million per annum (excluding GST). This would have an immediate, and significant impact on reducing council's planned rate increase by approximately 6 percent", said Hamilton Mayor Andrew King.

A letter from Hamilton Mayor Andrew King to Phil Twyford.
A letter from Hamilton Mayor Andrew King to Phil Twyford. Photo credit: Supplied

ACT leader David Seymour told Newshub the minister's comments are inappropriate.

"If you wait a while and ask nicely you can get your hand into people's wallets every time they fill up at the pump. For those families who depend on their cars to get around, it's just another blow from the Government who are addicted to spending other people's money."

But Mr Twyford is trying to curb council interest.

"I've made it really clear to not only to Hamilton, but a number of other councils around the country, that only Auckland Council will have the opportunity to put a fuel tax in place in this Parliamentary term. We haven't even considered or made a decision about what will happen in our second term of Government, and after that."