National’s Transport Minister Simeon Brown is proposing a fuel tax increase of 12 cents to hit all at once in 2027 – close to the same amount Labour suggested through gradual increases by mid-2026.

That would be followed by further increases of 6 cents per litre and 4 cents per litre in subsequent years, after increasing vehicle registration fees by a total of $50 – increasing $25 per year for the next two years – and potential increases in traffic fines.

These changes come alongside the promised $500 million pothole prevention fund, a new approach to road safety including targets for drink and drug testing, and $4.4 billion in public transport spending in the government’s overarching plan for land transport.

The previous Labour government unveiled its own draft of the Transport GPS in August, with then-minister David Parker revealing a spending proposal for $70b through to 2034 – with $60b coming from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) paid through fuel and vehicle taxes, and $10b in Crown funding.

The coalition’s revised draft also plans to spend $70b – all from the NLTF – in the same time period, with about $20b of that in the next three years.

Labour had prioritised $20b of that for 14 new roads and public transport links, and urged a bigger spending focus on maintenance after the floods and cyclones earlier that year – to help recover and prepare for future disasters. Other priorities included emissions reduction, safety, development and an integrated freight system.

This was to be paid for by returning to a system of gradually increasing fuel excise and road user charges – as had been done in the past by successive governments – but Labour put that on hold along with a 25-cent cut from March 2022 after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused oil prices to spike.

Parker’s proposal would have meant two six-monthly increases of 2c per litre of fuel, increasing to 4c per litre from the second year. All up, fuel taxes and RUCs would have increased by a total of 12c per litre from 2023 to July 2026 – adding $1.4b to the government’s coffers over 2024-27.

National campaigned on cancelling those tax increases, while also promising $24.8b of spending over 10 years with 13 new Roads of National Significance (RONS) projects and public transport upgrades.

It suggested increased funding for the policy would come from a mix of sources including more than $9.5b in private funding, toll roading, cost recovery and similar sources. Labour at the time criticised National’s proposal as being based on old costings and coming up to $4.8b short.

The coalition’s new proposal promises 15 new four-lane, grade-separated RONS along the lines of what it campaigned on.

In a statement, Brown said legislation was already underway on fast-track consenting approvals to support major transport projects like the RONS, and the government would seek alternative revenue to support their construction.

“This includes Public Private Partnerships, increased use of tolling, ‘Build, Own, Operate, Transfer’ equity finance schemes, and value capture to generate additional revenue and deliver infrastructure in a more efficient manner,” he said.

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