This seemed like a worthwhile way to spend an hour or so. Will the NZ Herald be willing to correct a completely inaccurate article? ( Not that this kind of response wouldn’t be legitimate on any day of the week for a dozen or more articles with similarly careless and inaccurate reporting – but this one seemed particularly wrong-headed.)
I would like to make a formal complaint and to seek a correction of Heather du Plessis Allan’s article in the Herald today. The electronic link is here.
The article is titled “How Labour just lost the 2020 election”
The author states that “Jacinda Ardern and her finance minister promised no new taxes under Labour”. That is simply false. A regional fuel tax was in the 2017 election manifesto for Labour. The manifesto says “Allow Auckland Council to collect a regional fuel tax to fund the acceleration of these investments, along with infrastructure bonds and targeted rates to capture value uplift.” The details are here http://www.labour.org.nz/aucklandtransport
Grant Robertson was quoted several times in media articles to say that there would be no new taxes other than those already announced.
The existence of this commitment was confirmed pre-election by Herald journalist Audrey Young in this article
Du Plessis-Allan clearly neither checked the manifesto nor Audrey Young’s article nor the the many news sources which contained the information about the fuel tax. I have listed some of them below.
In this article then Minister Joyce was quoted as saying that “Labour had begun a “long march back but they’ve got a way to go.”
“They’ve postponed the introduction of two taxes but have reaffirmed their intention to impose a water tax, regional fuel tax, tourism tax, income tax increases, and bringing farming into the ETS,” Joyce said.
Jacinda Ardern was publicly associated with the tax in the lead-up to the election on numerous occasions including in this article.
So Aucklanders voted with the full knowledge of Labour’s Regional Fuel Tax policy. Moreover New Zealanders and Aucklanders in particular have indicated with large majorities that their preference is for more public transport, in favour of building the rail link and unhappy with the focus on roads at the expense of other transport options. Although I cannot find details of polling about the fuel tax one survey indicates a large majority willing to pay road tolls to fund the new infrastructure.
The evidence is contained in these links.
A majority of Aucklanders support variable road tolls. https://www.horizonpoll.co.nz/page/241/majority-bac … with the intention of reducing congestion.
Several polls in Auckland have found a high preference for spending on the city rail link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_Rail_Link …
Here’s another one from 2011 showing 70% New Zealanders want to see more Government money going to fund public transport improvements in major towns and cities.
reports 30% want more pub transport 24% want more roads and 40% wanted both. Auckland results show an even stronger preference for more public transport.
Almost 2/3 of Aucklanders supported variable road tolls http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10821955 with the intention of reducing congestion so it is hard to claim that additional ‘taxes’ would lose an election.
Finally Du Plessis-Allan makes a simple arithmetical error. She says the fuel tax will be 9-12 c (presumably per litre of petrol) and then proceeds to add 20c to the price of a litre of fuel saying “So when you fill your car up and you’re paying $2.30 instead of $2.10, you’ll know who to blame – Labour.” She makes no case for why the cost of a litre with excise added would not be a maximum of $2.22. Perhaps that could be corrected as well.