The Government’s independent report on petrol prices is bit of a sop to be the public, really. The world oil price is driving petrol prices; any efficiencies that could be gained in New Zealand would be small and would not change the upward trend. Nor is a Fuel Watch website like Australia’s going to do anything to bring prices down. Calls by the AA and other organisations for petrol companies to hold off a few days on increases are also pretty useless the price is going up anyway, why get wound up over whether it happens on Monday or Wednesday? Like governments worldwide, Labour and National have rightly rejected removing fuel tax.
Tinkering on the margins of the price of petrol doesn’t matter. It’s going up and nothing New Zealand does will stop that. We need to acknowledge that the supply of oil is peaking and serious effort needs to go into adapting our economy a world without cheap oil.
So, it was interesting to hear both Helen Clark and John Key mention peak oil in the last few days. This morning on Breakfast, Clark said prices aren’t coming down. ‘..at some point you reach peak oil supply but we are changing our behaviour in this country, people are buying small cars, they’re looking for the fuel efficiency label and taking public transport’. In an interview with Mikey Havoc, Key said ‘I’m not in the camp that we’re at peak oil’ and proposed turning our coal reserves into diesel.
Neither is presenting a strategy to get us through peak oil with minimal pain, but at least Clark acknowledges it is real. National has shown that on this major issue, like so many others, they have no answers to offer and their head firmly in the sand.
I’m looking forward to Labour and the Greens presenting a suite of election policies that keep wages growing, so workers don’t lose out on the increased cost of fuel, and major investment in public transport so kiwis can cut their petrol use.