Auckland Mayoral candidate John Tamihere says if he wins he'll be seeking Auckland's 'fair share of our taxes deployed back in our city'

Auckland Mayoral candidate John Tamihere says if he wins he'll be seeking Auckland's 'fair share of our taxes deployed back in our city'

By Steve Forbes

Auckland Mayoral candidate John Tamihere says if he wins the battle for the Super City’s top job he’ll be hopping on a plane bound for Wellington to put pressure on the Government.

He says Aucklanders shouldn’t be expected to pick up the tab for the city’s massive infrastructure costs and he wants a mandate to ditch the Regional Fuel Tax.

Since announcing his run for office he has promised to sell the Ports of Auckland, privatise 49% of Watercare, scrap the Regional Fuel Tax, build a new harbour bridge, revise the City Rail Link, build a new tram-train system spanning the city, scrap the Government’s planned light rail project and freeze rates. He’s unashamedly made some massive promises, but can he realistically deliver on them?

“They aren’t massive promises. I’ve promised to rebuild the balance sheet of the city. To do that will require multiple tools like releasing 49% of the equity in Watercare,” Tamihere says.

Regional Fuel Tax 

But when asked if his promise of scrapping the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax is realistic considering under the Land Transport Management (Regional Fuel Tax) Amendment Act he would need the support of both the Auckland Council and the Government, he’s more evasive.

“I don’t know the answer to that question until the 13th of October. I’m seeking the mandate of Aucklanders for that reason. Aucklanders helped rebuild Christchurch willingly, we’ve fixed Kaikoura willingly, we’ve repaired Wellington willingly and we’ve put $3 billion into the Provincial Growth Fund, which Aucklanders can’t get a hand near. Everywhere you look Auckland’s being penalised.

“The 11.5 cents a litre Goff petrol tax has been levied solely on this city and on its citizens because they are Aucklanders. Aucklanders will cop a petrol tax of that amount if every other city has it levied on them. If not, it has to go.”

However, he’s got a lot of work ahead of him if he thinks he can repeal a policy that took an act of Parliament to enact and is projected to bring in $150 million per annum in revenue until 2028 for the Auckland Council to fund transport projects. But Tamihere says that’s why he’s campaigning on it.

“Will I get the support of council for it? I’m getting the support of Aucklanders first and then I’ll go downtown with the ruling and governing body and they would be very, very hard pressed to turn that back as a council. Once council approve that that negotiation is on, Chris Fletcher and I will be on a plane to Wellington and we’ll sort a number of things out because Wellington has us in a headlock.”

Auckland's role

He says Auckland is a massive driver of New Zealand’s economic growth, but it isn’t getting its fair share. And it’s the one thing that Tamihere and incumbent Mayor Phil Goff, who is standing for re-election, seem to agree on.

The difference seems to be how they plan to achieve it. With Tamihere, at least during the campaign, he's taking a more confrontational approach. Goff appears to be trying be more diplomatic.

In July the Productivity Commission's draft report on the funding and financing of local government called for new funding options for the country’s councils to help them meet a growing range of costs. The commission said the rising cost pressures for infrastructure, climate change, tourism and the growing responsibilities placed on local authorities by central government, means councils can’t rely on rates alone to pay for them. The report also highlighted the growing demands on local authorities in areas like Auckland.

Tamihere says since the economic restructuring of the 1980s and 1990s and privatisation of the Ministry of Works, local government has been left to foot the bill for too much of the country’s infrastructure.

“We’ve mined the most out of that policy, but it no longer works, it’s broken and as Aucklanders we want our fair share of our taxes deployed now back in our city. We want to build our city and we don’t want Wellington determining the timeline and the amount of money we get back. So we have to have a grown-up conversation about changing that orthodoxy.”

Time for change?

He says Auckland should pressure central government for more.

“Unless we use Auckland’s leverage to fix a number of problems we’ve got caused by central government planning we’re in big difficulty.”

And he claims as an independent with running mate and shadow deputy mayor Christine Fletcher he can make it happen.

“I wasn’t chosen by the ruling council of the Labour Party to stand for Mayor in Auckland, I am an independent. I’m having a go with Christine Fletcher to change the whole narrative.”

Voting papers for this year's election will be sent out from September 20 and will need to be filled in and posted in time to reach the electoral office by 12pm on Saturday, October 12. For further information on standing as a candidate contact your local council go to www.vote2019.co.nz, or contact your electoral officer.

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I can't for the life of me think why people who live in Kaitaia, Ruatoria, Taumarunui, or Hokitika should pay for Auckland's infrastructure. That's what you pay rates for, Jafas, on your properties that have doubled and more in value in the past decade or two.

?????
the same can be said in reverse.
We are one country right? The government collects revenue through tax, across the whole country, including Auckland, then spends that across the whole country.

Cant say i disagree but council has recently increased rates to the moon in Awkland so that no longer an option. Ware the super city everyone else should avoid mergers like the plague.

Well if Auckland has increased their rates to the moon then Christchurch’s have been strapped to a Rocket to Mars. For instance a $2.65mill in St Heliers, Auckland pays rates $5800 pa. And in comparison in Sumner, Christchurch a $1.36 mill pays $8,000 & $2.5 mill pays $14,300. Christchurch City Council eagerly anticipates the next valuations so it can compound a 9% increase on those as soon as physically possible. Hey how about making the mugs pay provisional rates!?

Auckland rates are the lowest in the country against land values.

That doesnt mean anything. Auckland house prices are on a different scale.

How does a median value auckland properties rates compare with median Wellington property?

“Aucklanders helped rebuild Christchurch willingly, we’ve fixed Kaikoura willingly, we’ve repaired Wellington willingly and we’ve put $3 billion into the Provincial Growth Fund, which Aucklanders can’t get a hand near. Everywhere you look Auckland’s being penalised.

Ohhh "go jump in the lake JT"....Maybe when half of Auckland is wiped out by a natural disaster then some more money will be spent in that area.

NZTA Funding 2016/2017:
Passenger Transport
NZ = $ 359,170,204
Auck = $ 221,089,887 (61%)

Roads New & Improved Infrastructure
NZ = $ 1,369,550,235
Auck = $ 529,186,422 (38%)

Population
NZ = 4.79 million
Auck = 1.65 million (34%)

I’d love to see what percentage of total tax revenue comes from Auckland. considering the majority of tax in NZ is paid by high income earners and I imagine the majority of those live in Auckland, it could be well above 34%.

Well now. Advocacy for a nation of fiefdoms! How cute. Rock on King John!

I'd love to see this information too, unfortunately it looks like stats like this is not in the public domain for some reason.

Nzdan it’s easy to cherry pick some stats. What is the overall spend in Auckland compared to tax take?

Not sure, can you provide that information because I've struggled to find it. If you think i'm cherry picking, feel free to provide some supplementary stats to support your claim. The only stat I excluded was NTZA's roading maintenance spend, Auckland takes 19% of that budget. I don't think Auckland possesses anywhere near 19% of NZTA's roads, but it's possible on a vehicle per hour basis the spend is justified. I felt this stat only served to further a "pong game" debate, so excluded it due to the ambiguity.

thats weird, rebuild the balance sheet by selling one of the few revenue generating assets ?

God help Auckland if thats his logic.

that weird,

he figures "Wellington has us in a Headlock", so comes up with the answer "lets sell some productive assets to Foreigner Owners".
So now he wants to add a Foreign Owner of the profits choke hold to the headlock.

I would have suggested a better option would be to try and reduce the external profiteers from the equation.

"He says Aucklanders shouldn’t be expected to pick up the tab for the city’s massive infrastructure costs and he wants a mandate to ditch the Regional Fuel Tax."

Yes, it should. Auckland has dis-economics of scale due to excessive growth. The increased costs should be born by those living in Auckland, & thus which will make other locations relatively more attractive.

That would be fine if Aucklanders didn’t have to pay tax. But as we do pay tax we kind of expect a fair percentage of it to be spent here. I’m not convinced that has been the case over the last few decades (maybe we are catching up now)

The 2.4km Waterview Tunnel between Pt Chevalier and Mt Roskill opened in July 2017, and cost $1.4b to build. That is $1000 per Aucklander whether worker, child or pensioner. Just one shortish tunnel built to knock 10 mins of the daily commute of a minor fraction of Aucklnds population. I suspect most of the never ending upgrades of SH1 through Auckland are funded as roads of national importance despite 95% of the traffic being Aucklanders commuting.

Well said. Thank goodness we have contributors here, that can be objective as opposed to subjective!

If they did a waterview every 10 years that is $100 per Aucklander per year. It’s peanuts.
most of the countries tax spend goes on health and super, and more of that is going to places with ageing populations than to Auckland.

If central government is funding the running and infrastructure of the city, then there should be a central government land tax.

If at a certain point in AKLs history we had enough infrastructure for the population at the time why is additional infrastructure requirements caused by a growing inmigrant population not just paid for by the multitude of new arrivals? Seems strange that previously "contented ??" jafas have to pay more to enjoy AKL less.
Perth bumper stickers were right when they said "P$ss off, we're full"

The main beneficiaries of economic activity in a city are the landholders. Those foreigners are paying for it through rents to their landlords, and increased population density increases land rents. The government should take a cut of the land rents through land taxes to pay for the infrastructure. It could easily be done through local government, but there's been far too much suppression of rates in Akl. It's funny how the tax that disproportionately affects the wealthy gets the most wailing.

Don't forget the central government shafts Auckland through its open door immigration policy. That's what is fuelling the need increased need for infrastructure, and it's something that Goff has no influence over.

What a classic Auckland wannabe populist politician line. If every South Island community was given back the same percentage of the total tax take as Tamihere negotiates for Auckland, the whole setup would fall apart. Exports, GST paid, Income tax paid, is way higher per head of population in the South than in Auckland. But we would actually chip in a bit to help out, if that is what it takes to keep the Aucklanders up there. Plus they can keep their 29 rain days in August!