As motorists, we contribute heavily towards the upkeep of New Zealand's roads. In fact, road users contribute over $2 billion in taxes each year including GST.
If you're running a petrol vehicle, your share of taxes and levies are included in the price of fuel at the pump. Owners of diesel-powered vehicles (and other fuels that aren't taxed at the pump) contribute differently through Road User Charges. The main way these vehicle users are charged for road use is according to how many kilometres they travel, and the type and weight of the vehicle. They pay a set amount for every 1,000 kilometres travelled.
How the money is used
All of the money collected by the government through Road User Charges is spent via the National Land Transport Programme.
Did you know?
- Around 81% of vehicles on New Zealand roads are fuelled by petrol and 19% by diesel.
- Motorists driving light diesel vehicles paid just over a quarter of the $1 billion collected in Road User Charges for the 2010-11 financial year. By comparison, petrol users contributed $1.45 billion.
Now that all petrol taxes are paid to the National Land Transport Fund the amount paid into the fund by petrol users has doubled, while the amount paid by diesel users has remained the same. This means there is an inequality in the system - users of petrol vehicles pay a disproportionately high amount of tax, compared to the Road User Charges paid by diesel vehicles.
AA speaking up for motorists
The AA is calling for a fairer and more transparent road charging system where motorists pay only a fair proportion of the costs resulting from use of the nation's roads.
More equal charging of diesel and petrol vehicles
The AA does not support the current system where users of petrol vehicles are paying more than their share for the upkeep of roads (through petrol taxes), compared to what the commercial diesel fleet is paying through Road User Charges.
The AA would like to see a more equitable road user charging system that is fair for petrol and diesel vehicles, and the smaller proportion of vehicles that use other fuels.
Greater scaling of charges according to road impact
Road User Charges must recognise that different sized vehicles cause different amounts of wear and tear to the roads. Under the current system, the impact of each extra tonne of vehicle weight is said to increase 'to the power of four'. For example, a two-tonne car does 10,000 times less damage than a 20-tonne truck.
However, Road User Charges do not work very well for vehicles under three tonnes because all diesel vehicles below three tonnes pay a similar rate. This means a small diesel car pays as much as a big SUV.
The AA supports greater incremental charging so that a lighter diesel vehicle (eg. a compact car) is paying noticeably less than a bigger SUV.