I trust your week is going well. I’ve just returned from South Korea and am looking forward to updating everyone on my experiences there. However, that’ll have to wait until my next update as there are other matters that should be covered first.
No doubt you’ve noticed, like most Aucklanders, and New Zealanders for that matter, that the cost of fuel is skyrocketing. Ten years ago we used to have one of the lowest fuel costs in the OECD - we now have the highest. The average New Zealand household is now paying record prices for fuel and $200 a year more in petrol taxes.
I wrote of my concern and opposition to the fuel taxes introduced by the Government in a few of my earlier newsletters, noting the 11.5 cents per litre increase in Auckland which kicked in on 1 July. The nationwide excise tax increase of 3.5 cents a litre has now kicked in as of 1 October and there's more to come next year and the year after that.
Somewhat comically, Jacinda Ardern recently voiced her concern about how much consumers are paying for fuel at a post-Cabinet press conference. While she was correct that taxes aren’t the only reason behind the rising costs - a falling NZ dollar and increased importer costs and margins are the others - her claim that taxes were only responsible for a 6.8 cent increase is laughable and disingenuous. When you do the maths, as National has, you’ll find taxes are behind a 20 cent increase in Auckland and 10 cents elsewhere.
Not surprisingly, this left-wing Coalition government is leveraging the fuel situation to extend the hand of government by prioritizing the passing the Commerce Amendment Bill. This bill will compel companies to produce information they didn’t previously have to. They’ll also launch yet another review, this time into the fuel market, spending more tax dollars. This is yet another example of a Government obsessed with reviews, commissions, and enquiries, rather than actual solutions.
As I’ve noted in previous newsletters, these taxes are not at all thought through. Groups like the Salvation Army fear low income families will be disproportionately affected, and will cut necessities like food and heating. Businesses are also warning higher fuel costs will be passed onto consumers on things like supermarket items, couriered goods, and building products. This isn’t good for a city where the cost of living is already too high. It also means those in other parts of the country will end up paying for infrastructure in Auckland they’ll never use as fuel companies spread the cost.
That’s why National has launched a petition calling for the Government to axe its new fuel taxes. Add your voice to #AxeTheFuelTax here.
I’m concerned the waiting list for a state house is now over 9,300. This number has increased and accelerated under the Labour-led Government due to flawed policies and an inability to understand empty rhetoric does not solve problems.
My fellow MP Judith Collins and I have said the pause on tenancy reviews mean tenants who don't deserve a public house are staying in them longer, leaving the truly needy to wait in the cold.
Fundamentally, having regular reviews makes the system efficient. When you've got such a high number of people efficiency is important.
I also find it sad that the Government has been cutting community groups out of the process of building community houses, a problem many social housing providers have been raising with me. These community housing groups do an amazing job in not only finding homes for people but providing the wider wrap-around support needed. However, this model does not fit a left-wing mentality where government control is key. This means we'll see less funding to the community and more power to government. Once again, with left-wing policy, the ones hurt most are those they claim to be helping.
Hosting Mt Hobson Middle School students in Parliament
I had a tremendous day hosting students from Mt Hobson Middle School at Parliament a few weeks ago. I was thankful to all my colleagues who came to speak with them, including National's leader Simon Bridges, Judith Collins, Melissa Lee, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Chris Penk, and Simeon Brown. It was great to show the kids around Parliament, including the chamber, and to answer their excellent questions.
With Melissa Lee, Judith Collins, and the class of Mt Hobson Middle School.
If you love hearing our native birds, The Eastern Bays Songbird Project is handing out free rat traps in the times and places listed. I thank them for all their hard work in conserving our beautiful native birds. I was pleased to pop along to the Maskell Street shops to collect a trap for home and talk more about their efforts.
Getting a trap from the Eastern Songbird team as part of helping us reach National’s 2050 Predator Free Target.
I've also been taking the chance to continue visits to our local schools lately. Last week I popped in to see the students and teachers of St Thomas’. They have some exciting building plans beginning in the New Year.
It was also good to attend the Orakei Local Board’s business awards. There are so many excellent businesses in our electorate and it was good to celebrate them all. The Supreme Winner was the Mission Bay Café. Having had many an excellent coffee and meal there, I can certainly say the award was well deserved. Congratulations to Mark and Tracey and the team at the café for their win. (I made sure all of the winners from Tamaki were recognised for their accomplishment on the House Order Paper two weeks ago. There’s no sense keeping these gems hidden from the rest of the country!)
Joining some of the Orakei Local Board team for their recent business awards. Congratulations to the Mission Bay Café for winning the Supreme Award.
As I mentioned at the beginning of my email I've just returned from South Korea for a few days. I was asked to speak at a conference on defence and strategic engagements in the Pacific. It was also a welcome chance to visit our troops at the Demilitarised Zone.
I look forward to updating you all about that trip, and other activities in Wellington and around Tamaki, in my next newsletter.