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Government Plans New Cash Grab

Farmers are outraged at the possibility that the Government is hatching another cash grab on fuel buyers, said Hugh Ritchie, the Transport Spokesman for Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

"Our Government has wads of cash but is still tax mad. Hardly a week does by without another new tax, levy, fee, or charge whacking business and individuals," Mr Ritchie said. "That's why the Federation has launched the FART campaign -- Fight Against Ridiculous Taxes."

Mr Ritchie was responding to a report that Auckland and government officials have recommended pushing up the price of petrol nationwide by five to 15 cents a litre to help fix Auckland's transport woes.

Transport Minister Paul Swain has ruled out a 15 cent rise as unacceptable, but not 14 cents which would nearly be as bad.

Mr Ritchie said that the government siphoned $673 million last year from fuel taxes straight to its consolidated fund, rather than putting the money into transport-related expenditure.

"Instead of swallowing that cash to help pay for rapidly increasing ministerial salaries, the government should spend the $673 million on transport. Diverting that cash to its rightful place would more than offset the need for higher fuel taxes," said Mr Ritchie.

An efficient land transport system is essential for agriculture to move primary products to processing centres and to ports.

Another issue of concern to farmers is that while the government is awash with cash and seeking to raise more, local councils are struggling to meet the cost of maintaining local roads, Mr Ritchie said.

"About $350 million of ratepayers' money is spent on local roads -- a cost borne by property owners, especially farmers.

"The relationship between land ownership and road use is very weak. It is time to reduce the burden on property owners and use all money collected from road users on roads.

"Indeed, there is enough money to stop using property rates to pay for local roads, and spend a further $323 million on building better roads




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