© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

Labour announces new transport plan including national fuel tax

Duncan Weich
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Labour's new transport plan will see its first new tax introduced.

Labour had many new ideas for taxes to fund its social policies in its first term in power but walked them back during the election campaign following an outcry, saying there would be no new taxes implemented from their working group until 2020.

Yesterday, however, the first tax was announced as part of the transport plan - a national fuel tax between 9 and 12 cents per litre to fund the expansion of public transport, bicycle accessibility, and regional and local roads, drawing criticism from the New Zealand Taxpayers Union.

Associate Minister for Transport Julie Anne Genter says New Zealand should aspire to road safety levels of Sweden.

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Swedish road deaths have decreased 54% since 2000 (colour represents gender - blue is male, orange is female) Transport Analysis Sweden

"20 years ago Sweden had the same road death rate as New Zealand. They changed their policy, they invested heavily in road safety, and today Sweden is one of the safest places to drive in the world."

Genter says if New Zealand had the same road toll as Sweden, 255 of the 329 people who died on New Zealand roads last year would not have.

In 2014, the Swedish petrol tax sat at approximately 80 cents per litre to fund the country's Vision Zero road safety strategy.

Genter has hailed the policy as a sensible, 21st-century budget, labeling it a #greenwin.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford talked about the road toll over the long weekend, in which seven people were killed in car crashes, saying the road toll was unacceptable.

The New Zealand Taxpayers Union responded quickly, saying the fuel tax would hurt poorer families living in fringe suburbs, emphasizing that the fuel tax would be double in Auckland, where the city council plans to implement a fuel tax of their own.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reinforced that the plan prioritized safety, and would invest in roads that were neglected under the last government.

Ardern says the last governments focus on "jewel carriage" highways meant local roads and public transport suffered.