The government has announced that petrol taxes will be increased this year. Aucklanders already knew there would be a 10 cent a litre increase. However, there will be another increase – this time throughout the country, probably at 3 to 4 cents per litre a year for the next 3 years. Aucklanders can therefore expect to pay 20 cents a litre more for their petrol in the next 3 years.
Although the government promised not to increase taxes before the next elections in 2020, the Minister of Transport, Phyl Twyford, claimed that this was not a tax but an excise levy. Many countries add an excise levy to the price drivers pay for their petrol and in fact New Zealand’s excise levy is a lot less than in many other countries especially in Europe. National had been planning to raise the levy to build more major roads in urban centres. This plan was called “Roads of National Significance” and included more motorways.
However, Labour’s new levy is not for more major roads. During the recent Easter holiday, 8 people were killed on our roads. In recent years, the numbers being killed and injured has been increasing. The new levy will be used for making our major roads safer by adding median barriers so that drivers do not cross the centre line and more rumble strips to the left of the road. When you drive over a rumble strip, you can feel your car shaking a little. If you are feeling sleepy, it should wake you up.
The government intends to make local roads and intersections safer too. More than half of accidents are on local roads.
The tax on petrol is called a land transport tax. It can be used for more public transport, cycleways, footpaths and rail. The Labour government is very keen to have light rail in Auckland from the airport to the city. Another plan is for rapid transit from Howick into the city. This will probably be a special lane or a road just for a Howick bus.
• excise levy – sales tax
• median barrier – concrete or wire fence between opposite lanes e.g between the north-bound lanes of traffic and the south-bound lanes
• keen (adj) – eager, want something very much
• rapid – fast
• transit – a system of moving people from one place to another; transporting people