Boat­ies want a break from re­gional fuel tax

Bay of Plenty Times - - NATION -

Boat­ies are fir­ing a shot across gov­ern­ment bows over the mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar im­pact of the Re­gional Fuel Tax. Ma­rine in­dus­try lead­ers say it’s “clearly un­fair” that recre­ational boat­ies must pay twice to fix prob­lems on the roads — once when they fill their cars and again when they fill their boats.

De­signed to fund con­ges­tion­bust­ing projects, the Re­gional Fuel Tax (RFT) will net about $7m a year from some 220,000 boat­ies, the NZ Ma­rine In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion pre­dicted.

The ma­jor­ity own trailer boats, rather than more up­mar­ket craft moored in mari­nas.

The as­so­ci­a­tion reached its fore­cast us­ing “in­dus­try ac­cepted fig­ures”. It said Auck­lan­ders were al­ready pay­ing a huge chunk of the $102m col­lected na­tion­ally as ex­cise duty and GST on fuel for boats.

Op­er­a­tors of com­mer­cial ves­sels can ap­ply for re­funds on the RFT but recre­ational users can­not.

Trans­port Min­is­ter Phil Twyford said the ar­range­ment was part of a re­view of fuel levies.

The 11.5 cents a litre RFT was in­tro­duced on July 1. Charged on petrol, diesel and bio­fuel, it’s de­signed to raise $4.3 bil­lion over 10 years for projects such as light rail to the air­port and new roads.

The Ma­rine In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion es­ti­mated the an­nual cost to boat­ies will range from about $58 for petrol-pow­ered dinghies to $230 for moored launches and large rigid hull in­flat­a­bles.

“Get­ting out on the wa­ter is a na­tional pas­time,” said as­so­ci­a­tion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Peter Bus­field. “We be­lieve it’s not in the best in­ter­ests of Kiwi fam­i­lies to make time spent in the fam­ily dinghy or week­ends head­ing out to go fish­ing an un­af­ford­able hobby.”

The new tax could also have “harm­ful con­se­quences” for busi­nesses.

“The Auck­land recre­ational boat­ing in­dus­try con­trib­utes sig­nif­i­cantly to the na­tional econ­omy.

“Many of our mem­ber com­pa­nies across the coun­try build and ser­vice boats bound for Auck­land; with a large num­ber of them deal­ing with the smaller ves­sels that make recre­ational boat­ing in New Zealand so ac­ces­si­ble to peo­ple from all walks of life.”

Recre­ational fish­ing lobby group Le­gaSea agreed the tax could hit the num­ber of ev­ery­day Ki­wis who could af­ford to run boats.

“How many more bar­ri­ers can we de­sign to bat­ter down par­tic­i­pa­tion? It will drive us back to the couch and the mall,” spokesman Scott Macin­doe said.

“It adds to the heavy, dreary sink­ing lid of in­dif­fer­ence and hos­til­ity from gov­ern­ment. Noth­ing comes back to recre­ational fish­ing.”

Bus­field said the RFT would be eas­ier to swal­low if it meant ex­tra money be­ing re­turned for ma­rine en­vi­ron­men­tal projects, boat­ing safety or ex­tra ma­rine fa­cil­i­ties.

Un­der $9m a year was re­turned to the sec­tor through boat safety ed­u­ca­tion and re­lated ac­tiv­ity.

The Hau­raki Gulf was the largest “park” in Auck­land and the coun­cil was mak­ing lit­tle ef­fort to im­prove ac­cess, he said.

Auck­land Coun­cil said it had a rolling sched­ule to re­pair or re­new boat ramps. Such projects re­quired spe­cial­ist en­gi­neer­ing work which was costly and funded from lo­cal bud­gets.

The Min­istry of Trans­port ad­vised Twyford a re­fund sys­tem would be needed for non-road uses of fuel.

Like “per­sonal ma­rine craft”, op­er­a­tors of air­craft, forestry and road-build­ing ve­hi­cles are among those who are in­el­i­gi­ble.

Twyford said the Cabi­net based the rules on ex­ist­ing reg­u­la­tions around re­funds for ex­cise duty and GST on fuel.

The “out­dated” reg­u­la­tions had been a prob­lem for suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments and he had or­dered a full re­view.

The Min­istry of Trans­port is on track to com­plete the re­view by the end of next June.

Auck­land Mayor Phil Goff said he had al­ways be­lieved all non­road use of fuel should be el­i­gi­ble for a re­bate. “I wel­come the Min­is­ter of Trans­port’s re­view of the re­bate scheme and I look for­ward to progress be­ing made on this is­sue.”

The Ma­rine In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion rep­re­sents around 470 com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing boat­builders, equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers and mari­nas. It or­gan­ises the Auck­land On Wa­ter Boat Show, on this week­end at the Viaduct Events Cen­tre.

Photo / File

The Ma­rine In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion es­ti­mates the an­nual fuel tax cost to boat­ies will range from about $58 to $230.

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