I am, of course, talking about the definitive decision to implement an Auckland fuel tax or Regional fuel tax. This will be implemented as early as July 1. With legislation currently moving through government to allow this to happen as well as an almost unanimous yes vote from Auckland councillors to pass the tax, the train is full steam ahead.
At least it is a decision
There has been a lot of discussion around whether or not this is the right thing to do. But ultimately, it is a good thing. We have a decision, not just debate and blame shifting. The rate of congestion growth was a lot faster than the rate of decision making.
Now at least we have a clear outline of where the money will come from and how it will be spent. The only thing the needs to be finalised is the implementation itself. Sure, we may just be fighting to stand still, but I’ll take that over going backwards for the sake of having the ‘right’ answer. Like we have continually heard, there is no silver bullet for the housing crisis – similarly for our clogged transport network.
Nationals Botany MP, Jami-Lee Ross, recently penned an article calling out Phil Goff for ‘raiding the wallets of hard-working Aucklanders’. The crux of his argument is that Council would and should be able to find the equivalent funding from savings within its own spending, if only they tried a little harder. This way Auckland will still benefit without adding undue stress on already stretched finances.
While I agree that Council should have to do this, I don’t trust them to get it done as soon as we need. Seriously, you’re asking Auckland City Council to do some self-reflection and improve their performance? While it would be great to not have to pay more to live in Auckland, asking Auckland Council to do something from within their own walls fills me with despair. There are a lot of things Auckland Council should do, should consider and should be better at. But they’re not. And I don’t think they will ever be excellent – such is the way of bureaucracy.
So to improve our transport networks I am happy to pay.
A clear path forward
At this stage knowing exactly where the money will come from and the projects that are mostly likely to be funded provides clarity and certainty. Other than the potential for a change in government, who have staunchly declared they would axe the Auckland fuel tax if elected in 2020, things do seem to be full steam ahead.
This is better than in August last year, when National released their version of ATAP. They prioritised different projects, yet still had a funding hole. So really they only solved one half of a problem. And to me the issue isn’t around which projects to do – just get on and bloody get started with something. All I’m imagining is the motorway moving at car park speed while cyclists, who now see it faster and safer than arterials, zoom past.
Knowing where money will come from and for which projects is one step further than National managed to get. Perhaps their reliance upon a Labour mayor to front up with some savings was their downfall. Which isn’t dissimilar to all of ours reliance upon Auckland Council. We all feel that same downfall day in and day out while we sit in our cars not moving.
And now the bad news……. Regardless of a tax or improvements, congestion is going to get worse. So accept it or move to Great Barrier Island.