- Date published:
4:11 pm, May 2nd, 2018 - 16 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, economy, Economy, labour, national, phil twyford, same old national, Simon Bridges, spin, supercity, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: bill cashmore, Christine Fletcher, daniel newman, desley simpson, Linda Cooper
This post is about two ATAPs.
ATAP stands for Auckland Transport Alignment Project and is an attempt to reconcile and align Auckland’s and the Government’s transport aspirations.
The first ATAP report was issued in 2016. The results represented a tension between a relatively left wing Auckland Council and a right wing National Government. A clue was the introductions from then Minister of Transport Simon Bridges and then Auckland Mayor Len Brown. Brown’s comment that we needed a “sustainable funding track” was both prescient and realistic.
The tension no doubt contributed to the cause of the major hole in the report, a $4 billion deficit in what was needed and what was available in the first decade of ATAP.
The report was updated in 2017 to reflect faster population growth. The Government’s opening up of immigration as an economic growth mechanism clearly came at a cost. The revised funding gap was estimated to be $5,9 billion.
Then with the change of Government ATAP was reviewed. A progressive Government and a more progressive Council had the opportunity to really align local and Government views. And the new ATAP clearly shows a change in emphasis. Instead of a road dominated response to congestion all modes are supported. And the intent is that transport investment should drive Auckland’s urban form and not follow it.
Auckland’s debate about its future has really been sparked by the good people at GreaterAuckland who came up with the congestion free network. I cannot think of another contribution to the discussion of the future of our transport system that has had such a profound event. The congestion free network’s goals are clearly reflected in ATAP’s proposals.
And how about this? Five National aligned Auckland City councillors, Bill Cashmore, Linda Cooper, Christine Fletcher, Daniel Newman and wife of National Party President Peter Goodfellow Desley Simpson voted for the tax.
Why you may ask? Well having a plan where you don’t have the money to complete it is an absolute waste of time. And the $1.5 billion to be collected over the next decade will attract support from the National Land Transport Fund to the tune of $2.8 billion.
So with such overwhelming local political support and with a Colmar Brunton indicating majority support amongst Aucklanders for the poll you would think that National would walk back from its ideological hatred of a regional fuel tax.
If you did you would be disappointed.
National has confirmed it would overturn Auckland’s regional fuel tax if elected in 2020.
Speaking at his first major economic speech in New Lynn, National leader Simon Bridges promised a repeal of the policy, which allows regional councils to levy an extra 10c tax on fuel within their region for a decade.
Auckland Council voted for the move on Monday, setting a new 11.5c/litre levy on fuel – the maximum amount plus GST – to apply from July 1. The Government has promised that in this term only Auckland Council will be allowed to actually use the scheme.
Bridges committed to reversing the legislation if elected in the speech.
“A National government under me will invest heavily in transport – as a former Transport Minister I know how important it is, and how frustrating it can be when the system doesn’t work – but we won’t be using a regional fuel tax to do so,” Bridges said.
“The tax is not needed, the enforcement is complicated, and it will hit you in the back-pocket.”
“A typical Auckland family will have to pay around $700 extra a year as a result of the fuel taxes the Government has announced.”
National’s figures need to be treated with a great deal of scepticism. It is estimated that it will earn up to $150 million per annum. Much of it will be paid by commercial interests and corporates. Council’s analysis suggested a third although this seems too little to me. If this is the case then it would cost the average Auckland dweller about $67 a year. You would need a typical Auckland family to have 11 members to back up Bridges’s claim.
Even if you add in the FED increase and doubled the figure you would still not get near Bridges’ figures. It would be illogical to do so given the context but it appears National may have added in the proposed FED increase
Auckland Council’s analysis is that for a motorist travelling 15,000 kilometers a year in an average fuel efficient vehicle the cost would be in the vicinity of $130.
And for business the Council analysis suggests that they would pay $51 million a year in increased transport costs but travel time savings would be in the vicinity of of $311 million presumably over the next decade.
Whatever the figures are Bridges’s claim needs to be treated with complete skepticism.
Five days ago National’s figures were hundreds of dollars a year. They are now $700 although the context looks a bit rubbery. At this rate the figure should hit $1,000 a year any time now.
And the big problem? There is no proposal for a replacement source of funding.
If, god forbid, National gets back into power Auckland City faces uncertainty and disruption and much needed transport infrastructure will no longer be funded. And the next time they claim to be good financial managers remind them that they cannot count or multiply or divide. And that they left the Auckland region with a $6.9 billion hole in the budget it needs to meet the wishes and aspirations of Aucklanders for a functional transport system.