Newshub Reid-Research poll: Kiwis overwhelming back Government extending fuel tax cut

New Zealanders overwhelmingly back the Government extending the cut to fuel excise duty past January 31, according to the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll.

The results reveal 81.4 percent of New Zealanders believe the Government should extend the fuel tax cut after January, 12.7 percent of people said no, and 5.9 percent of people didn't know.

Newshub's latest poll results also show supporters of all main parties back extending the cuts.

Of Labour supporters, 79.7 percent back an extension, while 14.2 percent are against. Of National supporters 85.2 percent support the cut lasting past January and 11.8 percent don't. 

The Government announced in July that the 25 cents per litre cut to fuel excise duty (FED) that began in March would be extended until January 31, 2023. It was on top of a cut to road user charges (RUC) and halving public transport fares.

The package was intended to ease the pain of sky-high inflation on Kiwis. The Consumer Price Index for the June quarter showed annual inflation of 7.3 percent, the highest in 32 years. It dropped down by only 0.1 percentage points in the September quarter and is still expected to be historically high throughout 2023.

But the package is costly. Extending the cuts to FED and RUC from August to January was estimated to cost the Government $589 million.

Newshub Reid-Research poll: Kiwis overwhelming back Government extending fuel tax cut
Photo credit: AM.

The Government's been tempering expecations that the cuts may be extended further. 

Transport Minister Michael Wood in September confirmed to AM that the 25 cents off would end in January, though a week later said the Government would take a look at the situation early next year.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Sunday said no decisions have been made. 

"Cabinet has made no decisions at this point over those initiatives that we have expanded out until the end of January," she said. "That is simply because we are continuing to assess what is happening with oil prices."

Treasury officials warned the Government earlier this year not to extend the policy to January as the reductions would create a precedent or expectation that "sits in tension" with the Government's climate goals. 

There are also concerns heading into summer that fuel prices may again be on the up, making it difficult for the Government to put the 25 cents back on. A collective of the world's largest oil-producing nations in October decided to cut oil barrel production targets, while Russia continues to face economic sanctions.

The price of oil has dropped since March, when Russia's invasion of Ukraine led prices to spiral upwards to a peak of $123 for a barrel of Brent crude oil. Brent crude oil is at about $99 currently. 

Other Government support for Kiwis during the cost of living crisis include the cost of living payment of $350, paid over three months from August to New Zealanders who earned under $70,000 over the last tax year and who are not eligible for the Winter Energy Payment. There have also been increases to Working for Families, Superannuation, student allowances, and main benefits.

On Sunday, Ardern also announced an expansion to subsidised childcare assistance and further increases to family tax credits.

The Government's Crown Accounts for the year to June 30, 2022 showed tax take from petroleum fuels excise and duty fell from $2.1b in 2021 to $1.7b in 2022, while road and track charges decreased from $1.9b to $1.8b. This was attributed to the FED and RUC cut.

The Newshub-Reid Research poll was conducted between 25 October – 3 November 2022 with a margin of error of 3.1 percent.