Rising fuel prices in New Zealand hit low-income households.

Rising fuel prices in New Zealand hit low-income households.
Rising fuel prices in New Zealand hit low-income households.

Fuel prices in New Zealand are on the rise and are expected to reach record prices. This leaves many New Zealanders with little choice but to continue paying, even when the price rises above $3 per litre. Experts predict the previous high of $3.12 per litre, not including Auckland’s regional fuel tax, will soon be surpassed.

According to Ben Wooliscroft, a professor at Auckland University of Technology, most New Zealanders are stuck paying for fuel regardless of the cost. This has resulted in hardship for many families, a recent survey reveals, with 19% of parents having to do without essentials such as fuel, heating and even meals. The situation is even worse for Māori parents, where 26% experience such challenges, double the previous year.

Many New Zealanders, especially those living in rural areas, are trapped in a cycle of car dependency. The lack of public transportation and long distances make alternative modes of transportation impractical. As a result, people have no choice but to rely on their cars. Wooliscroft emphasizes the importance of investing in active transport facilities and reliable public transport to address this issue.

Wooliscroft also questions the sustainability of car ownership due to rising fuel prices. Owning a car comes with ongoing expenses, regardless of use. Despite the economic benefits of alternative modes of transportation, such as biking or walking, people often choose to use their cars out of habit and convenience.

Unfortunately, the situation may worsen in the future. Transport Minister David Parker has proposed an increase in fuel taxes to fund transport projects, which could drive up fuel prices further. This could have negative impacts on fuel-dependent businesses and result in equity issues, favoring higher-income households.

The regressive nature of fuel taxes disproportionately affects low-income households and Māori communities. These households typically travel longer distances and own less fuel-efficient vehicles, making them more vulnerable to price increases.

To address these challenges, it is essential to invest in alternative transportation options, such as active transportation and reliable access to public transportation. Additionally, policymakers should consider the equity implications of fuel taxes and find ways to ease the burden on low-income households.

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2. The Post (David UNWIN)

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