Fuel tax to force price seek­ing

Rodney Times - - FRONT PAGE - JAY BOREHAM

As Auck­land fuel prices are set to take a hike, so too will su­per-city dwellers seek­ing cheaper fuel across the bor­der.

Fuel com­pa­nies are ex­pect­ing the trend and are eye­ing up the stretch of State High­way 1 just north of Auck­land.

Z Energy and Cal­tex spokesman Jonathan Hill said de­tails of the tax were still sketchy, but clearly de­fined bound­aries of­fered op­por­tu­ni­ties to build new sta­tions.

‘‘I wouldn’t be sur­prised if com­pa­nies bore that in mind when they de­cided to in­vest.’’

When prices changed con­sid­er­ably sta­tions wit­nessed peo­ple turn­ing up with trailer loads of jerry cans to stock­pile. Some even filled milk bot­tles to take ad­van­tage of the sav­ings, Hill said.

Auck­land mayor Phil Goff has wel­comed the tax say­ing the city must pay its share for ’’des­per­ately needed’’ projects.

But the mayor’s en­thu­si­asm for the new tax isn’t shared at the pump.

At Kai­waka Cal­tex in North­land, the first sta­tion 10kms past the Auck­land bound­ary, owner Harmeet Marzara isn’t ex­pect­ing an in­flux of tax-avoid­ing mo­torists - but he might be pleas­antly sur­prised.

At the last Auck­land sta­tion, Ga­so­line Al­ley in Te Hana, owner See­man­shu Jain is ex­pect­ing a huge im­pact. His cus­tomers mainly trav­elled be­tween re­gions, or were res­i­dents from nearby North­land towns look­ing for a cheaper price. ‘‘They’ll stop com­ing,’’ he said. Look­ing to the pot-holed high­way, Jain ques­tioned what ben­e­fits the fuel tax would bring Te Hana.

Sit­ting in their Jucy rental camper out­side Jain’s sta­tion, Ger­man tourists Ste­fanie Farner and Nils Bergner con­firmed they would keep bump­ing along the pot-holed high­way to Kai­waka and avoid the tax.

For Te Hana fire­wood dealer Phil Turner, the tax would see him drive 13.5km to Kai­waka. Turner trav­els 1500km a day, runs a sec­ond van, and petrol run equip­ment.

‘‘If you end up hav­ing to pay it, you’ve got to, but there are ways around it.’’

And it’s this type of think­ing that has the fuel com­pa­nies wor­ried about bor­der be­hav­iour.

Gull gen­eral man­ager Dave Bodger be­lieved truck driv­ers would add running tanks to in­crease fuel ca­pac­ity, and avoid Auck­land sta­tions. He said it was naive of the Gov­ern­ment to ex­pect the same vol­ume of fuel would be sold in Auck­land fol­low­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a tax, and there was a real risk of a black market fur­ther re­duc­ing the rev­enue.

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