The spin doctors in the government will implore the politicians to look gravely concerned at the price of fuel and its impact on ‘Nuzullanduz’, but in reality they’re rubbing their hands with glee. Politicians know that our economic woes aren’t really caused by factors inside New Zealand; they’re caused by international finance and politics, international oil prices, international milk prices, and whether the War on Terror (or WoT, as I call it, usually with some kind of punctuation) looks like it’s being won.
Reducing the tax take on petrol won’t kickstart our economy – it’s too tied into macro-economic factors like the carry trade from Japanese investors borrowing money at 0.1% and investing it here at 8%.
Oh, but hang on just a minute: Helen Clark and Michael Cullen care for ‘middle Nuzulland’, don’t they? Well, not really. What the government cares about is balancing its budget while avoiding economic meltdown and rioting in the streets. NZ spends a lot of money on roads and the high cost of petrol will force people into public transport (objective number one), putting less stress on the road network so that less roads have to be built, and therefore less maintenance needs to be paid for their upkeep (objective two).
As I’m writing this it’s twenty past nine, and I’m watching Transit’s website that shows the Esmonde Rd onramp. It’s drizzling. This time last year it wouldn’t have cleared until nearly 10am. Look, it’s almost clear. On a Monday!! Unheard of outside of school holidays.
So, when you look at the price of petrol and think that the people in power care, take a long hard look in the mirror. Then curse George Bush with all your might, and then wonder WoT the hell you can cut out of your weekly budget to meet the extra fuel bills.