Fleecing or no fleecing, an unchecked and uncontrolled rising of petrol prices, in a relatively short span of time does not ‘feel right’, Prime Minister.
Little would Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have expected that one of her popular lines that she and her party had used so effectively in the election campaign last year would come back to haunt her within the first year of being in government.
It is noteworthy to recall that during the last election campaign Ms Ardern had persuasively used the lines – “it does not feel right” – to attack National’s much-touted “Rockstar” economy.
During the election campaign, “Rockstar” and “it does not feel right,” gained much popularity in the debate between National and Labour around economic performance.
While National was flaunting on its success of keeping books in good shape with a reasonable growth rate, especially during the Global Financial Crisis years, Labour, then in opposition, were busy in taking away the sheen off that economic performance, by arguing that any rock-star economic performance does not matter much, as long as average Kiwis feel otherwise.
Interestingly, the wheel has turned full circle now with roles swapped, Labour flourishing in government and National lamenting in opposition, and so has their own political positioning.
National is trying to strike fortune out of growing public fury, if not resentment, against the rapid rise of petrol prices in the last twelve months, especially coinciding with the news of government’s boasting of a massive $5.5 billion surplus and falling net debt.
Now it is National’s turn to question the significance of that surplus if people have to live with unabated rising petrol prices.
Welcome to the vagaries of politics Ms Ardern.
To her credit though, Ms Ardern has fully demonstrated glimpses of a smart, tactful politician that she is, and that people often tend to lose sight of, behind the more popular imagery of being a mother while at the office, whereby she tried deflecting the resentment coming her way to someone else, and even tried to ride on that resentment.
When Prime Minister tells us that we are being fleeced by the petrol companies, then she has very carefully deflected the fury coming her way.
Whether it is successful or not, will be seen later.
For now let’s worry on rising petrol prices, in a relatively short span, which is causing pain and forcing Kiwis to change their lifestyles.
Anurag Kashyap, who recently bought a new home in Henderson and works in Ellerslie as sales adviser told The Indian Weekender that the seeming quick rise in petrol prices was hurting his family’s tight budget.
“We have recently bought our first home in Henderson, which obviously needs some strict budgeting to be able to service the mortgage.
“However, the rise in petrol prices in recent months has affected our lifestyle.
“About a few months ago, I used to get the full tank for $110, which has now risen to around $140.
“I am trying to cut down on my lunches during weekdays to be able to cope with it,” Mr Kashyap said.
Inflated fuel prices throughout New Zealand are starting to hit home as taxes increase, the Kiwi dollar weakens and crude oil costs jump.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has refused to budge on easing the excise tax on petrol.
Instead, she has indicated that her government would prioritise passing of the Commerce Amendment Bill, which would amend the Commerce Act to enable the Commission to undertake market studies.
While the government seeks to find ways to deal with the impact of rising petrol prices, it is apt to say that “it does not feel right.”