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Wairarapa’s diesel prices pump up: drivers in despair


Diesel prices in Wairarapa have passed $3 a litre in a shock price rise that is having effects on private drivers, industrial operations and even public transport.

In just three months the cost of diesel has risen more than 60 cents per litre at some stations in Masterton.

The price difference between petrol and diesel in the region has shrunk significantly.

When the government’s fuel tax freeze came into effect in March, diesel was about 40c cheaper than 91-octane fuel. That gap is now as low as 14c.

Owner of McCarthy Transport Ltd Mark McCarthy said the rising cost of fuel was “definitely” affecting business.

“It sucks. It’s affecting everything from people filling up their cars to come to work to everything across the board.

“The cuts to Road User Charges [RUCs] gave relief and was much appreciated but it doesn’t help with our off-road costs such as logging or farmers driving tractors.”

McCarthy said that because the fuel tax freeze only applied to petrol, it was now more expensive to drive a diesel vehicle and the effects could flow into the rest of the economy.

“Because we’ve got the cuts to RUCs but not to diesel itself it actually means diesel is more expensive than petrol.

“It is very much an integral part of the supply chain and it’s cutting deep.”

There were no signs of prices slowing down anytime soon as diesel import prices were at a record high and continuing to climb.

In one week diesel import prices rose by about 15c a litre, according to statistics recorded by Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

On the week ending June 3, diesel cost $1.70 per litre to import.

One week later, it cost $1.84 per litre — a record high.

Private drivers were feeling the crunch too.

Dave Gilliand, who lives in Masterton and drives a Volkswagen Golf, said after paying RUC there was starting to be little difference between diesel and petrol cars.

“With the difference between petrol and diesel at about 16c now and with RUCs it’s more expensive now to drive diesel.

“However it probably is better to drive diesel as they go further on a tank and produce less emissions. In my Golf I can go about 1200km on a tank. I’ve got a petrol car I take to Auckland and 45 litres will get to Auckland and back down to Hamilton.”

Drivers of diesel vehicles must pay RUCs of at least $49 per 1000km, with prices increasing depending on the type of vehicle.

The discounted RUC scheme is scheduled to end in September and when it ends the lowest fee would be $76.

General Manager for Metlink Samantha Gain said the rising cost of fuel could see more people shifting to public transport.

“Patronage figures have been impacted by the various waves of covid-19, so it’s difficult to discern any pattern related to rising fuel prices alone.

“However, previous studies have shown that private car fuel prices do have a material impact on public transport usage and we model this as part of fare and patronage forecasting.

“At the moment we are forecasting an extra half a million journeys in the coming year, based on recent changes to fuel prices.”


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