Petrol price hike hurts North

By Rosemary Roberts

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Whangarei-based businessman Trevor Griffith thinks living on the Tutukaka coast is heaven - but paying for the commute is hell.

Even before the increase in the price of petrol this week he was paying up to $160 a week to fill up his six-cylinder Holden. Now with fuel more than $2.22 a litre he is looking at an even bigger bill.

This is well over double what he was paying to fill the car when he bought the vehicle in 2008.

He says he and other coastal residents, have discussed car-pooling but he realised it wasn't a feasible option for him because he had to have the flexibility to drive to building sites during the day.

His business, Griffiths Project Management, has also been heavily hit by the increase in the price of petrol. "When you are pricing a contract you have to factor in the man-hours and what it costs for those people to drive to work - but if you start charging the full fuel costs you could price yourself out of the market."

Kathy McMillan, manager of the North Haven Hospice shop Allsortz, says petrol rises said her army of 260 volunteers are probably doing a bit of car-pooling and combining shop duty with doing errands around town.

Ngaire Rae, of Manaia PHO, says rural families are already prioritising for town visits, "doing one big visit, 'saving things up' and things like paying bills and buying food are likely to take priority over pro-active health care. They often delay seeing a doctor because they can't afford the petrol".

Greg McNeill, communications manager for Refining New Zealand (operators of the Marsden Pt refinery) said the complex refined up to 55 per cent of New Zealand's petrol needs and the petrol companies bought the balance overseas. He said the refinery's $365 million expansion project would enable the refinery to meet 65 per cent of New Zealand's petrol needs, reliably and cost-competitively against imports.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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