Petrol prices are rising three times faster than household incomes and the Government's current transport direction is only going to make things worse, the Green Party said today.
Statistics New Zealand released the Consumers Price Index for the March 2012 quarter this morning showing that baseline inflation had increased 1.6 percent over the last year but also confirming that oil prices remain one of the key drivers of inflationary pressures in the New Zealand economy.
"Oil prices have increased 48 percent over the last five years, while household incomes increased only 15 percent over the same period," said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman. General inflation over the last five years was also 15 percent.
"Petrol is rising three times faster than incomes or general inflation. This is having a chilling effect on our economy," Dr Norman said. "The more petrol prices rise, the more we have to export just to stay in the same place. Rising petrol prices are putting enormous pressures on our economy and the key area of oil dependence is our transport sector.
"The National Government's transport priorities, focused solely on roads, are only making matters worse. "The Government will spend $14 billion over the next ten years on their flagship Roads of National Significance programme. This programme will only make our economy more reliant on petrol, not less. "We can break our reliance on petrol by investing in smarter alternatives to roads.
"Building more state highways is not the priority for the short-to-medium term. We need smarter alternatives to driving to get around and these include investing in rail to move freight off roads, fast and efficient public transport, and better walking and cycling infrastructure. "We're rapidly approaching a future where New Zealand families soon won't be able to afford to get about and our current Government is making matters worse."