Joyce knows best

Written By: - Date published: 7:09 am, December 6th, 2011 - 35 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, Steven Joyce, transport - Tags:

It’s Auckland versus Steven Joyce again.

And indeed, not just Auckland, Steven Joyce knows better than Treasury or any government department, or indeed anybody else.  Just ask Steven.

So he convinced his cabinet colleagues to get rid of regional fuel taxes.  Otherwise Aucklanders would have their own pot of money and be able to set up their own transport projects.  Which would of course be terrible.  Because Aucklanders know nothing about Auckland’s traffic needs.  Not like Steven does.

Treasury wanted to keep the tax on the books to “send an important signal to the regions about being accountable for funding their transport decisions”.  That and there was no other proposal for how to meet Auckland’s traffic needs.  Steven knows better.

In fact he knows so much better that he has got approval to reduce the size of regional transport committees and transfer the transport planning duties of Auckland Council’s elected members to the largely appointed directors of Auckland Transport.

Aucklanders apparently will have enough say because the Council get to appoint 2 of the 7 directors of Auckland transport.  That’s Auckland Transport which is the single biggest spender of Aucklanders’ rates.  And we get to vote for people who get to appoint 2 out of 7 of the people running it.  That’s democracy in action I tell you!

So Joyce rejected advice from the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry for the Environment that the council should retain a direct transport planning role.  Because Steven knows best.

35 comments on “Joyce knows best”

  1. LynW 1

    And this is the leadership in charge for the next 3yrs! How democratic is that! Enough to make one weep!

  2. Rog Chapman 2

    No sympathy for you Aucklanders. You voted for National and Act in droves, and ignored the warnings given.

    Now take your medicine and keep long memories for 2014!

    • lprent 2.1

      I am waiting for the dec 10 figures so I can compare apples with apples (the massive specials vote distorts everything). But I think that the left vote in Auckland actually dropped less than most areas. It just got spread around the parties further.

      I don’t think National will be that happy with the Auckland vote. They sucked up much of the right vote into themselves but look like they lost quite a lot along the way

      It looks to me like the biggest winner party here was the party of people not voting. That is a party that people have little loyalty to, and when they decide to go elsewhere then election results swing dramatically.

      But I am unsurprised. The election strategy of mostly presidential (Key) and mostly targeting electorates (Labour) was just about guaranteed to minimize the turnout, even without the distraction of the RWC

    • Hami Shearlie 2.2

      Agreed Rog!

    • Vicky32 2.3

      No sympathy for you Aucklanders

      Hey, wait a minute! You can’t blame all Aucklanders, that’s absurd.

  3. queenstfarmer 3

    From the summary: “Steven Joyce isn’t a big believer in democracy. He has overruled Treasury, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry for the Environment…”

    You clearly have the wrong end of the stick Bunji. The Minister is the elected representative. The ministry staff are not. And I think Joyce has got this one right.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Dumb answer mate because we don’t elect dictators for three year terms, and the Ministries were advocating for increased representation from the people who would be affected by the decisions.

      So yeah, Joyce is undemocratic, and he is making the right decisions for his own crowd and not letting Aucklanders and others have any real say.

      • queenstfarmer 3.1.1

        we don’t elect dictators for three year terms

        That’s right, we elect representatives who are entitled to receive advice from ministries, and then decide whether to act on that advice and be held accountable (either individually or on a party-vote basis under MMP, which is of course somewhat watered down) for the consequences.

        What we don’t do is abdicate that role to unelected civil servant, although Sir Humphrey would love the scenario you seem to be advocating, which is ministries ordering their ministers around.

        • ghostwhowalksnz

          They are spending council money , so its the councillors who are the ‘elected representatives’

          Joyce has his own appointments to NZTA who spend taxpayers money -mainly on state highways.

          Queenie did you know the footpaths are controlled by Joyces appointees!!

          You have tied yourself in the knot of your own absurdity

          • queenstfarmer

            I’m not talking about who’s spending what money – that’s a separate argument. The question is whether the premise of this article is valid, namely whether an elected representative minister is somehow being “undemocratic” by not blindly following unelected bureaucrats’ advice in all regards.

            • Bunji

              The lack of democracy being mentioned is the removal of powers from elected councils. ie what he overruled all the government departments’ sensible advice to do, not the fact he overruled them, and you well know it queenie. That’s why you’ve chosen to attack a misrepresentative quote from the summary not the article and ignored my reply at 3.2

              According to you ECAN being canned & elected representatives being indefinitely replaced by appointees was probably a great triumph for democracy as well no doubt…

            • Draco T Bastard

              Joyce is removing Aucklanders say in how their city is run. That is undemocratic as Joyce was not elected to run Auckland. The Auckland Council was and Joyce has just removed Auckland’s representation from Auckland Transport which is a self-contained, government appointed organisation.

    • Bunji 3.2

      His lack of belief in democracy was referring less to his overruling Treasury etc (which just shows his arrogance), and more to his taking away powers (transport planning) and money (fuel tax) from elected Councils – particularly Auckland – and placing them with unelected bodies like Auckland Transport.

      Auckland Transport doesn’t even get to have the Council pick its directors (just 2 out of 7), despite being paid for by Aucklanders’ rates (and being the largest ticket on Aucklanders’ rates). Under SuperCity legislation it cannot be put back under proper Council control, regardless of what Aucklanders think. How is that democratic?

      It just brings back to mind ECAN, CERA etc etc…

      • insider 3.2.2

        Auckland’s councils never controlled road funding in Auckland anyway so not sure what the big drama is. Regional committees managed the process of deciding what was most important for funding. They included people from disability groups, health, safety eg the AA, trucking, ‘cultural’ ie Maori, and environmental as well as council and NZTA. Councils had to bid for the funds available against each other and against highway jobs. In unitary authorities, like the new Auckland, the council reps are always in a minority.

        • ghostwhowalksnz

          Thats the government funded portion of the budget. Most went to state highways

          The councils had their own budgets and funding ( from rates)

          • insider

            Yes but councils tend not to do anything they don’t get matching funding for and the govt portion can be 40-60% of the cost of that local road expenditure – and that still has to go through the regional transport committee. That’s why I said the councils don’t ‘control’ road funding.

            • handle

              Regional transport committees are part of regional councils. Auckland’s was interfered with as part of the ‘supercity’ changes.

  4. tc 4

    Yup that masterplan to control akl assets is coming along nicely….up next Water.

  5. ghostwhowalksnz 5

    That stupid Greasy Cetacean also was trying to pass off Auckland Transport as being controlled by Browns cronies

    Of course Mayor Brown only got two appointments, one of which is Mike Lee and the other was Christine Fletcher
    ( C&R co leader). So much for stacking the board with his cronies

  6. insider 6

    regional fuel taxes were just a big slush fund for councils to play with, that’s why Joyce turned it down. Rates are already out of control – RBNZ has pointed out their significant and continuing effect on inflation and resistance to being held in check – and this would have been another pool councils could use to mask rates.

    It could also be really distortionary. It has to be on petrol and diesel otherwise everyone would buy a diesel car, but there is no fuel tax mechanism for collecting diesel tax due to RUCs. So that would take some sorting, but not impossible. It would also have to be high enough to be worth collecting and make an impact on funding – local roads already get most of the 60-70cents in tax per litre, so two or three cents more won’t be helpful.

    It would also ruin investments in some petrol stations heavily dependent on truck traffic and hand a big cheque to others at Drury or Meremere, because what trucker is going to pay 10cpl more on a 900 litre tank of diesel when coming into Auck? They are going to fill on the fringe. You might even see Auckland fringe retail developments spring up too, just like in Europe, to attract shoppers with ‘tax free’ fuel – it’s amazing how far people will go to save a little. Those companies with fleets that are smart will just arrange their transaction outside Auckland and then bring in a trailer load of tax free fuel.

    And of course the more the councillors depend on the tax the more they will be driven to encourage use of private cars to raise revenue rather than public transport.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 6.1

      Wrong. The difference would be 1 or 2c.

      The regional fuel taxes would be that, most likely the highest in areas with busier roads like Auckland AND Waikato.

      Sure it might be lower in places like Taihape but different factors would increase the price above Hamilton anyway.

      The other items you list are just nonsense as well . And contradictory.

      In one line the local tax is too small to raise any money and then it becomes large enough to drive out of town for.

      • insider 6.1.1

        The Auckland regional fuel tax was scheduled to be 9.5cpl this year. Waikato was not considering putting one in – only Canterbury, Wellinton and BOP and the max they could do was 5cpl.

        M comment on size of tax was that if too small it would raise too little money to be worth it. It had to be big to make a funding impact which is why the law said it could go up to 10cpl…. but that could in turn drive avoidance behaviour but you think it’s nonsense to suggest that people might try to avoid tax. History tends to disagree.

        • ghostwhowalksnz

          There is a similar price discrepancy from Thames and Ngatea in the Hauraki plans.
          Sure travellers can get a bargain but practically all users in Auckland will pay.
          After all trucks can travell 00’s Km so will never catch them anyway if they are going down country.
          RUCs can be estimated as MPG anyway, not rocket science

          • insider

            There are well documented cases of economic tourism around the world where people travel across state boundaries to avoid tax. Even in cities people will drive relatively long distances to save trivial amounts from supermarkets. People might not travel for fuel alone, but might if it is part of a wider retail offer. The big issue is the introduction of distortions into a relatively clean system and a tax that penalises non road users of diesel to fund primarily urban rail. So all the forestry and farm and fixed plant businesses in the Auckland hinterland will pay to electrify rail for the city centre. It will reward and punish some fuel businesses for no great reason. And it will be avoidable by some big users.

            Good luck trying to equate RUCs with MPG – you can imagine the screams from the truck manufacturers and owners about the numbers chosen, and how that will disincentivise efficiency.

            It would be much much cleaner if they just did a straight tax across the board.

            • ghostwhowalksnz

              RUC can be allocated pro rata across the country if mattered that much.
              As it is there is an enormous subsidy from the metro areas to the sparsely populated parts of the country ( And before that Auckland only got under 20% of the funding when it provided 30%+ of the petrol tax)

              No form of levies or charges is prefect. Its allways a trade off with the money raised and the compliance cost.

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    Typical authoritarian decision – take the power away from the people so that crony capitalism can get its hands on our wealth. Where’s the Democracy Under Attack headlines from the NZHerald?

    • Roy 7.1

      LOL…as if Granny Herald would ever run a headline like that!

      • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1

        They did but it was an attack on the previous government. They won’t do so when this government is being antidemocratic.

  8. busman007 8

    Good on him i say , the information coming from treasury is hardly correct in the best of times , a prudent decision to back business sense instead of political flunkies like the treasury!

  9. Dan 9

    The biggest problem with the regional fuel tax was that it was very hard to find positive outcomes for it for people who need to use their cars (i.e. the people who can’t use public transport – shift workers, etc) who are often lower income earners. They’d pay up to ten cents a litre more for services that they couldn’t access or use. Seemed mighty inequitable. Cancelling it was the right thing to do, but the lack of follow-up for alternatives is pretty disappointing. 

  10. Shiatsu 10

    That fool Joyce is simply making things even more difficult for Len to get the CBD Rail Link happening. It’s no secret that he’s against because he loves his roads too much!!!!! Sack him NOW – he’s only helping to take Auckland further backwards!!!!

    • ghostwhowalksnz 10.1

      Well John Banks is a BIG fan of the underground rail loop.
      Said so during the mayoralty campaign and again during the general election-, but for some reason he has decided that education is his new priority. ( Shades of sock puppet)

  11. randal 11

    joyce is a clown
    three years ago he couldnt even spell gubmint and now he is one.
    all he knows is jobbery and grabbing stuff that doesn’t belong to him.
    namely peoples taxes and doing what he wants with it.
    thats what being in gubmint is all about for kweewweee and his familiars.
    no concept of public service whatsoever.
    only grabbing and payoffs.

  12. gnomic 12

    Still not clear on how Joyce became Minister of Everything. After all he is far from a genius.

    He seems to play the wolf behind Key’s weasel. They do say he may be Prime Minister one day after the weasel retires.

    His problem is that the only thing he knows is the pork barrel. Works in a boom, may not go so well in the bust which is coming.

    Moreover the answer to every question is not a road. You heard it here first.

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