Our submission on the Land Transport Management Act Amendment Bill is here.
Our biggest concern is that this bill repeals any chance of a regional fuel tax for Auckland:
There is absolutely no need for the regional fuel tax provisions to be removed as the government already has the ability to say no to a scheme (or to even cancel a scheme already in place). The stated rationale for repeal is that “This will avoid the likely costs of such a tax in a single region being spread across all regions within our nationwide fuel market, and will ensure that the additional costs of a refund system for non-transport fuel use are not imposed on productive areas of the economy.”
A report by Ascari and BERL Economics contained in the Auckland Council Transport Committee agenda for August 2012 rebuts these arguments with the following findings: The imposition of a regional fuel tax now would be much less likely to result in price spreading to other regions. There are ways to address spreading such as penalties and a targeted monitoring programme. Avoidance of a regional fuel tax by consumers is likely to be a minor issue. Administration of a regional fuel tax at the wholesale level would be straightforward. If a regional fuel tax is imposed at the retail level, the administration costs are likely to be significantly lower than previously identified. The costs to commercial operators seeking a refund are estimated to be between $25 and $50 per firm and could be minimised further. The spatial form and vehicle travel patterns in Auckland are both well matched to the requirements of an effective regional fuel tax.
It is our belief that central Government simply wishes to deny local councils any ability to raise revenue from alternative funding sources, without any solid rationale for doing so. It would be in the best interests of central Government and the economy in general to work with local councils, in particular Auckland Council, to discuss this issue in a meaningful way.
There is an excellent summary of the bill here on Transport Blog.