Fuel tax to force price seeking
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.