Simon Bridges: Just another Government cash grab New Zealanders can’t afford

Opinion 22/07/2019

By Simon Bridges, National Party Leader, Leador of the opposition.

Just when you thought the Government has run out of ways to hike the cost of living, it’s dreamed up another way to make day-to-day life even harder.

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter is proposing yet another tax on hardworking New Zealanders, this time she wants you to pay more for your car. This is on top of another fuel tax increase this month, rents up $50 a week, and poor policies that will drive up the price of electricity.

The Government is now planning to make some vehicles up to $3000 more expensive by taxing their emissions, unfairly penalising people already struggling with the cost of living.

This scheme is likely to impact heavily on farmers and tradies.

Those who don’t have the ability to shift to lower emission vehicles, given suitable options for their lifestyle just don’t exist.

You don’t see a Toyota Yaris being driven around the farm.

National supports greening the vehicle fleet. We set a target of having 64,000 new electric vehicles register in New Zealand by 2021, and introduced incentives to buy electric. Our policies saw the number of Electric Vehicles on our roads jump from 1406 in May 2016 to 14,867 in June this year.

We were also planning to lead by example through transitioning the Government fleet to electric vehicles. This Government has only registered a paltry 135 electric vehicles for the first time to any Government agency since it took office.

The Government is failing to lead by example. It’s sending a clear message, do as we say, not as we do.

Genter has been quick to tell New Zealanders they need to go out and buy an electric vehicle to avoid paying the Government’s car tax, but she clearly isn’t putting the screws on public servants.

Hiking the cost of certain vehicles will impose more costs on some families who can’t afford to switch to an electric vehicle. The Government is penalising Kiwi motorists, rather than incentivising them.

Unsurprisingly this Government hasn’t even done the homework on its own policy.

The Government’s car tax will hike the price of some of New Zealand’s safest vehicles, while making some with the poorest safety ratings considerably cheaper.

Genter, this time as Minister responsible for Road Safety, has a working group considering a ban on importing cars with 1-star and 2-star safety ratings, including models like the Suzuki Swift and Mazda Demio.

But under her ‘feebate’ scheme, both of these cars would be cheaper, and instead 5-star safety rated cars, like the Ford Ranger and Toyota Camry, would be taxed.

The consequence of this could see some people hanging onto older, less safe vehicles for longer than they should.

It is very clear you cannot trust this Government when it comes to tax.

This latest policy is going to see Mums and Dads with three kids forced to pay a few extra grand for a used seven-seater van, just so a banker can buy a cheaper Tesla.

That’s not fair.

We know we need to reduce our vehicle emissions, but it should be done through incentives.

It should not come at the cost of Kiwis already struggling to pay for this Government’s poorly thought through polices.

Simon Bridges is Leader of the National Party and of the Opposition.