The petrol tank was around a quarter full when I stopped for more fuel.
It cost more than $100.
As I paid I said to the woman serving me, “I’m pleased this doesn’t mean I can’t buy the groceries, it must be hard for a lot of people.”
She agreed, said her children were on the minimum wage and one sometimes had to toss up between fuel for the car to get to work and food for her family.
That is now the reality for too many people.
The government can cast blame on fuel companies but it has to take some responsibility.
The extra taxes it has already introduced and the additional tax in the pipeline makes the government’s share of the price we pay at the pump too big a proportion of the total cost.
Just like tobacco tax, the extra fuel tax (and GST on top of it) is taking tax too far.
It’s not just that people are now having to toss up between fuel and food, it’s compounded by the inflationary impact of fuel tax because all goods and every service have a fuel component. The extra taxes are making that fuel too expensive and inflating the cost of everything else.
That doesn’t just impact on households and businesses. It is over-stretching budgets for hospitals, schools and the myriad providers of social services, whether or not they are not-for-profit.
The politicians’ encouragement for people to use public transport more doesn’t help these organisations.
They can’t get their supplies delivered by foot, cycle or bus and their staff can’t use those modes of transport to carry out their work.
They’re not an option for many people on shift work nor for anyone who lives or works too far from bus routes.
When you live in the country you can do your best to minimise the times you need to go somewhere, but some travel is necessary and that requires driving your own vehicle.
When the government has a $5 billion surplus – even if big-cost items in this year’s Budget aren’t included in it – it shouldn’t be introducing any extra taxes.
It should be having a very careful look at its spending, taking a very sharp knife to every excess, and not just forgetting any more fuel tax, it must remove the extra it’s already imposed.