Auckland traffic congestion, Southern Motorway. (Photo by David Hallett/Getty Images)

The Bulletin: Pump up the fuel tax

Good morning, welcome to winter, and and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Auckland Council passes 10 year budget, National hates Labour’s sentencing proposals, and a concerning glimpse of the culture at Tauranga hospital. 

Auckland’s ten year budget has made it through Council, meaning spending and rates plans for the next decade can be locked in. That means the regional fuel tax, that controversial cost on motorists, will be going ahead. Stuff has a useful explainer on all the fuel tax details. It will come into force on the first of July.

Politically, the vote was 13–7 in favour. Mostly the no votes came from right–leaning councillors like Greg Sayers and Desley Simpson, who are generally opposed to rates rises and tax increases. One of the no votes was particularly interesting, with Efeso Collins from Manukau telling Radio NZ he couldn’t support a tax that would hit poorer people comparatively harder than the wealthy. Mr Collins’ comments have also been featured prominently on the front pages of the NZ Herald print edition this morning. He outlined his thoughts at length in this column for The Spinoff earlier this year.

In terms of other ways money will be rustled up, rates rises will be held at 2.5% over the next two years, and 3.5% a year after that, reports the NZ Herald. There will also be a targeted rate for AirBnB, to bring them into line with the same rate for hotels and other accommodation.

And where will that money go? Auckland is set for potentially transformational upgrades to public transport infrastructure, to address gridlock and congestion that has long hindered the city’s economic development. That’s been Mayor Phil Goff’s argument for months now. An interesting point about the fuel tax money too  a lot of it will go towards road safety. And according to this analysis from Greater Auckland, that’s incredibly popular. A climate change response fund will also be established, along with $90 million dollars to protect coastal assets.


Remember yesterday’s edition of The Bulletin, where the top story was about the Labour government’s proposed sentencing changes? National are promising to reverse all of them when they’re next in government. The NZ Herald reports National’s Mark Mitchell says the changes will see more “serious, violent offenders on the street.” Tough on crime is likely to be a key message for National over this term, if National–aligned blogger David Farrar’s planned Kiwiblog series on “second strikers” is anything to go by.

In contrast, Victoria University criminologist John Pratt told Newstalk ZB home detention is an under-utilised option in New Zealand, it’s a much cheaper option than prison, and can be used safely. Pratt also says the three strikes law is a “travesty,” and has not been effective at deterring crime.


This is a deeply concerning feature from The Wireless, who have looked into the alleged extreme culture of bullying among staff at Tauranga hospital. While the DHB said they had a zero tolerance stance on bullying, the staff spoken to by journalist Mava Enoka painted a picture of wilful blindness to it occurring. A content warning – the story involves discussion of suicide.


The way New Zealand approaches recycling is fundamentally broken, a new WasteMINZ report covered by Radio NZ says. Basically, China doesn’t want to take the rest of the world’s plastic any more, and now councils are struggling to work out what to do with it. Environment minister Eugenie Sage says one thing that would help is a new approach to product design, so that they would have longer lives, and could be broken down at the end of their lives easily.


Wellington’s Citizens Advice Bureau volunteers fear they could be shut down, after the Council tightened the conditions on their funding, reports the Dominion Post this morning. The Council wants them to change their service delivery model to mobile sites, which CAB says was never discussed with them previously. Incidentally, the busiest CAB office at the Central Library will soon close, because Council staff will be moving into it.


The 111 system is being reviewed after almost 800 calls dropped off during Auckland’s recent storm, reports the NZ Herald. The calls were dropped by an automated system designed for heavy loads, and had to be followed up by staff afterwards. In some cases, the callers were in potentially life threatening situations.


The Northcote by–election is reaching a climax, with a furious spat erupting over who is allowed to campaign at Glenfield mall, reports Newshub. Labour says the mall is showing favouritism to National by letting their man Dan Bidios meet and greet there, but not allowing Shanan Halbert to. The mall now says they’ve had enough, and have put in a blanket ban on all campaigning.


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(Image: Reagen Butler)

Right now on The Spinoff: Emily Writes discusses the six months since her son started school. Jesse Mulligan tells Alex Casey about the many failures he endured on the way to being a broadcasting success. And Don Rowe has penned quite possibly the finest piece about bull semen ever written since animals were first domesticated.


A warning from the US state of Oregon for those who are eyeing up the possibilities of green gold through legal cannabis growing. The Guardian reported earlier this month that the state is growing far more pot than can possibly be smoked, even though Oregon has a legal recreational market that drives up demand. As a result, prices have crashed, farmers and shops are going out of business, and the industry is being cornered by fewer and fewer wealthy players. Here’s an excerpt:

Whitney says it’s not unusual for a new industry to attract speculators and people without much business savvy.

“Whenever you have these emerging markets, there’s going to be a lot of people entering the market looking for profit,” he says. “Once it becomes saturated, it becomes more competitive. This is not a phenomenon that is unique to cannabis. There used to be a lot of computer companies, but there’s not so many anymore.”


High Performance Sport is launching an investigation into the departure of top cycling coach Anthony Peden, over allegations of inappropriate behaviour, reports One News. More than 20 staff have left Cycling NZ in the last two years, with a toxic culture at the organisation cited as the reason.

In tennis, Michael Venus is making tidy progress through the French Open Men’s Doubles so far, winning two from two along with his partner Raven Klaasen from South Africa. Venus is a current defending champion of the French Open in doubles, though last year he was playing with American Ryan Harrison.

And NZ Rugby is being accused of ripping off the intellectual property of video production company The Coconet, reports Stuff. It’s around their ‘Say My Name’ campaign, which features mainly Māori and Pasifika players giving incorrect, and then correct pronunciations of their name. And I’ll be honest, I saw the Coconet version (also called Say My Name) a few weeks ago and didn’t realise they were part of a different series. So they might well have a point.


From our partners, Vector’s Bridget McDonald has looked at the government’s deep dig into the energy sector. What will the review look at, why should there even be one, and does it mean you might pay less for power?


Finally, I, like much of the rest of the country, will be taking Monday off for Queens Birthday. Be nice to each other over the long weekend, drive safe, stay warm, and we’ll talk again on Tuesday. That’s it for today’s edition of the The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, please forward it on and encourage them to sign up here.


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