The government has a fair bit on its plate right now. There’s the aftermath of the Christchurch quake and planning for the recovery. I think we all know about that. There’s also the hammering that ordinary folk are getting from the cost of living. I think most of us know about that one too:
Inflated to bursting point
If you’ve begun to dread your weekly or fortnightly supermarket shop, trawling the aisles, shopping list in hand, your heart sinking at what seem to be relentlessly rising prices, you are not alone. Inflation in New Zealand nudged 4 per cent in the October-to-December quarter – the second-highest level in the past 20 years. And since then it’s got worse.
A Herald on Sunday investigation shows consumer prices have jumped further since the most recent official statistics were published in January.
We checked with hundreds of retailers around the country to measure the average price of 70 basic household items from the Consumer Price and Food Price indices. We found that their average cost has risen more than 5 per cent over the past 12 months. Items like beer, cigarettes, petrol and diesel have gone up 10 per cent or more just in the first months of this year; the prices of some fresh produce, like potatoes, carrots and butter, have risen as much as 50 per cent in the past 12 months.
This won’t surprise economists in their glass and concrete tower blocks on The Terrace in Wellington. The Treasury has predicted the Consumer Price Index (CPI) will rise 4.5 per cent in the year to March, and 5 per cent in the year to June. …
Paul Keane, of retail consultants RCG in Parnell, says that in the 1980s people had secure jobs and their wages were rising. Today the economy is stagnant and inflation is increasingly rampant. … Today, a growing number of households are finding it increasingly tough to balance their weekly budget. And this is without factoring in the as-yet unknown economic impact of last week’s Christchurch earthquake. …
Shamubeel Eaqub, principal economist with the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, says New Zealand’s expected financial recovery has been “deferred”. Growth projections have been revised down from around 2.3 per cent to 0.3 per cent. “There are three separate issues here,” he explains. “The earthquake, and spikes in both food and fuel prices.
That’s a pretty full ticket, don’t you think? So its reassuring to know that the PM’s office has its eye on the ball. It’s all over the important issues:
The Prime Minister’s office has complained to a leading women’s magazine after it digitally altered a picture of John and Bronagh Key for its earthquake edition.
Woman’s Day did a photo shoot with the couple for its Valentine’s Day edition last month, in which Bronagh Key was wearing a silky peacock-blue Helen Cherry top.
Last week, it ran a front-page story headlined “John Key’s message of hope”, with a photo of the couple … but with the colour of Bronagh Key’s top miraculously changed to red.
The Prime Minister’s office would say little on the matter. “We are totally immersed in our response to the tragedy that is the Christchurch earthquake,” a spokeswoman said. “Any issues that we may have had with this publication have been taken up directly with them. We will not be commenting further.”
Not so “totally immersed” that you couldn’t take time out to complain about this piece of total nonsense though were you. Not so “totally immersed” that protecting Brand Key from any possible taint of red made it to the top of your “to do” list. When I think of all the other things that the office of the PM might be concentrating on right now, well…
All of my posts for March will finish with this note. While life goes on as usual outside Christchurch, let our thoughts be with those who are coping with the aftermath, with the sorrow of so many who were lost, and with the challenges ahead.