Fuel prices in New Zealand are on the rise, expected to reach record-breaking prices. This has left many New Zealanders with little option but to continue paying, even when the price exceeds $3 a litre. Experts predict that the previous price peak of $3.12 a litre, excluding Auckland’s regional fuel tax, will soon be surpassed.
According to Ben Wooliscroft, a professor at Auckland University of Technology, most New Zealanders find themselves trapped into paying for fuel regardless of the cost. This has resulted in difficulties for many families, with a recent survey revealing that 19% of parents have had to go without essentials like petrol, heating, or even meals. The situation is even worse for Māori parents, with 26% experiencing such challenges, double the number from the previous year.
Many New Zealanders, especially those living in rural areas, are stuck in a cycle of car dependency. Lack of public transport 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 in light of rising fuel prices. Owning a car comes with ongoing expenses, regardless of usage. Despite the economic benefits of alternative modes of transportation, such as cycling and walking, people often default to using 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 tax to fund transport projects, which could further raise fuel prices. This could have negative impacts on businesses relying on fuel and result in equity issues, favoring higher-income households.
The regressive nature of fuel taxes disproportionately affects lower-income households and Māori communities. These households typically travel longer distances and own less fuel-efficient vehicles, making them more vulnerable to the price increases.
To address these challenges, it is essential to invest in alternative transportation options, such as active transport and reliable public transit. Additionally, policymakers should consider the equity implications of fuel taxes and find ways to alleviate the burden on lower-income households.
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