Thursday, November 30, 2023

Rising fuel prices exacerbate cost of living crisis

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The current cost of fuel in east Auckland is similar to the prices in February 2022. Times file photo Wayne Martin

It hasn’t taken long for east Auckland motorists to feel more pain at the pump after the Labour Government reinstated the 25 cents per litre petrol excise tax.

The tax went back onto fuel across the country on July 1 following a 15-month suspension.

According to the Gaspy fuel price app, the cheapest 91 octane petrol in the local community, as of July 3, is being sold at Gull in Ti Rakau Drive, East Tamaki, for $2.67 a litre.

The most expensive is at Caltex in Whitford Road, Somerville, for $2.78 a litre.

The cheapest 91 octane petrol in Auckland is at Mobile Epsom in Manukau Road, at $2.55 a litre, while the priciest is at Challenge Waiheke, at $3.53.

Reintroduction of the petrol excise tax isn’t the only recent change set to worsen the cost of living crisis.

Half-price public transport for users aged 25 years and older has also come to an end, while NZ Post has increased the cost of mailing a standard letter from $1.70 to $2, and alcohol excise tax rates have increased 6.6 per cent.

Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni says the Government has rolled out a range of targeted measures from July 1 to help to counter the cost of living crisis.

They include the end of the $5 prescription co-payment for medicines; free public transport for children aged under 13 and half-priced for people under 25 years old; and funding for driver licence support services, among others.

“Our cost-of-living measures announced in the Budget will have real long-term benefits, particularly by making most prescriptions free,” Sepuloni says.

“An estimated three million people … will no longer have to worry about the cost of collecting medication.

“We’re also supporting one million low-income New Zealanders with a Community Services Card by making public transport more affordable for them.”

Another initiative taking effect is the Government’s Child Support Pass On change.

From August 22 about 41,500 sole-parent families will receive an average of $65 per week of child support, with a median gain of $24 per week.

National Party deputy leader and finance spokesperson Nicola Willis says the fuel price hike will cause problems for numerous New Zealanders.

“Not only will Kiwis be hit by the $15 extra to fill up the tank of an average car, the price hikes will likely hit sausage rolls, bread, butter, and other basic food items that Kiwi families are already struggling to pay,” she says.

“Labour is ripping off this Band-Aid policy in one painful swoop.

“The damaging follow-on effects of the price hike will likely be felt across the wider economy and hit household budgets hard.

“Worse, the inflationary impact will come at time when the recession is hitting home.

“We can expect this pain at the pump to damage inflationary expectations and keep interest rates high.”

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