Auckland mayor Wayne Brown speaks about his proposals for the city's budget. Photo / RNZ / Marika Khabazi

‘Dissolve Themselves in Acid’ – Brown Slams Govt Over Axed Fuel Tax

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has delivered a scathing critique of the government’s decision to abolish the regional fuel tax, suggesting those responsible should perhaps ‘Dissolve Themselves in Acid’, if they wanted to help the roading situation for Aucklanders.

Brown, was being quizzed by Radio Host Sean Plunket about his decision to freeze all projects associated with the 11 cent per litre tax instituted by the Labour government in 2018.

“They made a promise, and they’ve stopped them [the tax],” Brown stated, addressing the government’s commitment to ending the tax without laying out a clear path for future funding of Auckland’s transport projects.

“Some of those things I’m quite happy to stop but a lot of them I’m not. A lot of them people will miss out, so I’ve got to be entirely open about the consequences of it.” He said.

“It’s true you know there being a bit of the revenge politics at the moment stopping a lot of things.”

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Pa Beach Cafe, 82 Blackwell Drive, Tryphena, Great Barrier Island (Aotea)

Brown, who took office amidst a challenging fiscal situation and managed the sale of Auckland Airport shares to mitigate some of the budget shortfall, remains adamant about not burdening Aucklanders with new rates. While facing a $613 rates increase for the average property owner, Brown says the government’s promises should not translate into further costs for property owners.

“We’re going to reduce the cost of living with cuts. Okay. That’s good they’ve done that. But we’ll just stop all those things it was going to pay for and then see what happens.” he added, arguing the move leaves the city in a precarious position, with no viable alternative to make up for the lost revenue.

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Pa Beach Cafe, 82 Blackwell Drive, Tryphena, Great Barrier Island (Aotea)

Plunket probed that there was a notion Brown was seen as more aligned with the right of politics and as such, he might work along better with a National government.

“I mean I would say that I’m socially liberal and fiscally conservative so where does that put you?” Brown said “I’m not mad about either parties to be quite honest and within the council there isn’t a clear left and right in fact they’re sort of extreme left and, not quite sure left.”

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Pa Beach Cafe, 82 Blackwell Drive, Tryphena, Great Barrier Island (Aotea)

“Oh and then there’s Maurice Williamson” he added.

Brown’s frustration was palpable when Plunket asked him if there was anything central government could do to “get out of the way of Auckland solving its own problems?”

“Dissolve themselves in acid. That would be a good start.” Brown retorted, before conceding the statement might have been excessive, but going on to underscore the severity of the situation.

Auckland Council has been grappling with significant financial constraints, its debt reaching around $11.5 billion.

Last year councillors agreed with Brown to sell around 7% of the city’s shares in Auckland Airport, which raised around $833 million.

A characteristically plaintive Brown conceded that he was working with the central government to identify additional funding avenues including them handing over the GST on rates.

He also lobbied for the ability to charge a bed tax in order to invest money into the city becoming a world-class venue for concerts and the like, similar to Australia.

The interview wasn’t over without one final jibe at government, and those south of the Bombays.

“We tend to have been treated by previous governments and one or two of this government are already starting to think that way. We’re just like another council, like Horowhenua or something. But we’re not.”

“We are a third of the country and 40% of the GDP.”

“It’s a centre of regional government and I expect to be treated as a regional government.” Brown added.

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