We can whinge about it. We can demand that our government do something about it. But it seems the only thing we as individuals can do about the high price of fuel is to stop driving. For most people this impractical, for many impossible. But already it seems there is evidence that people are prepared to dramatically change their lifestyles to accommodate the higher price. According to demographer Bernard Salt, people have already increased their use of public transport, leaving the car at home. It is anticipated that people may even consider changing jobs or moving house to cut down on their commuting time, and some are expected to downsize the two car family to just one vehicle.
Of course, measures such as those are workable in the city, but where does that leave the rural community? For many Australians, public transport just isn’t available, and the distances between towns mean that people will simply become even more isolated.
Adding to the pressure on the family budget is the fact that increased fuel prices will also lead to increases in the price of almost everything else. It will cost more to deliver the eggs, milk and bread to local stores as the cost of transport is driven up by the price of fuel. This is where the inflation problem is coming from, not from profligate consumers spending recklessly. The high prices are driven by a combination of insatiable demand and arrogant oil producers. Both the oil producing nations and the multinational oil companies are harvesting money from a market which is captive to them. And while our government continues to collect tax on fuel, countries like Indonesia and Malaysia are actually subsidizing it.
It’s time for a radical rethink. Either our government reduces the tax on fuel, and perhaps even uses the bonanza from minerals profits to fund a subsidy, or it looks like a permanent change to the Australian way of life.
Then again, with the environment barrow now being pushed so firmly, maybe that’s the whole idea anyway.