Right decision. Wrong decision. [Update 3]
Two decisions in on one -- one of which is sensible, the other of of which is completely f'ing ludicrous.
The first decision is the right one: to scrap Labour’s ridiculous Auckland regional petrol tax.
Transport Minister Steven Joyce says the government will not proceed with regional fuel taxes, which are an "expensive and inefficient" means of collecting revenue.
Here’s the bad one. To raise the national petrol tax to make up for it. To allow Labour’s planned additional theft to go through, and to add another impost of their own on top.
From 1 October this year motorists will pay an increase of 3 cents per litre in fuel excise duty and drivers of diesel vehicles will pay the equivalent in road user charges. A second 3 cents increase will occur at October 1 next year. Each 3 cent per litre increase includes an annual increase of 1.5 cents per litre scheduled by the previous government.
After last year’s increases we’re already paying the government over fifty percent of every litre we put in our cars. They already take more in excise taxes and GST on petrol than the local petrol companies earn for importing, refining and selling the stuff. And rather than dropping fuel taxes, we’re all going to be dunned even more to increase the government’s revenue, and to pay for Labour’s ridiculous plans for an electric train set around Auckland.
Why can't electrification be paid for out of the profits made by the existing train set? Oh, that's right . . . there aren't any. The ‘system,’ used by just 30,000 Aucklanders out of a population of 1 million, is parasitical on the real transport system – and on the rest of the country.
Just like the government.
UPDATE 1: Despite being at work in downtown Cairo, Liberty Scott is still all over this, and with details a'plenty on why the decision to raise the tax is is wrong, ill-thought out and a waste of our money -- he kills of a few myths raised by Idiot/Savant, which Scott says are "just pure posturing. In short, he doesn't know what he is talking about." Not for the first time.
It's also, says Scott,
a lost opportunity to make Auckland councils think about a user driven transport strategy instead of the failed "Smart Growth" rail fetish that has done nothing to relieve congestion in US cities.
ARTA/ARC have dressed up the rail business case to suit the answer they wanted, on grounds that the government's own funding agency would question. It will continue to cost taxpayers $5 per trip when electrified, it will generate very modest benefits, and most of those who benefit will be those who get their trip subsidised. It will make diddly squat difference to those using the road network, at best it might increase property values for those living nearby a station and work nearby one on the same line, or businesses who may have a catchment from those able to use the train.
At best, it needs independently appraised - not by anyone in Auckland local government - to determine if the appraisal itself is robust, the levels of confidence and optimism bias around costs and benefits, and whether a thorough appraisal of alternatives has been included.
Sadly, National has been taken for a ride, and you're being asked to pay.
UPDATE 3: Bernard Hickey, bless ‘im, reckons this Auckland electrification decision is just as bad as Cullen’s Kiwirail debacle.
Why on earth is the National government making the same mistakes as Labour did with rail? . . . Surely someone has to point out that pouring good money after bad money is still a bad idea. Where’s the analysis saying it makes sense for KiwiRail to run this?
Good questions, to which he gives a thorough fisking.
(Be careful clicking the link, however. For no apparent reason It contains pictures of a grown man wearing a bicycle helmet!)