24 May 2018

Midwife spent $11,000 on petrol in past year

From Checkpoint, 5:24 pm on 24 May 2018

A rural midwife says she's spent several thousand dollars on petrol in the last year and faces a bigger bill this year as fuel prices skyrocket.

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Photo: AFP

The cost of fuel has hit a record high in some parts of the country -  in Wanaka it has hit $2.45.

Midwife Jan Scherp, who works in central Otago, said the closest base hospital was a two-hour drive away and most clients were at least an hour away by car.

On average she clocks up nearly 80,000km a year doing her job.

"I've got weeks where [people] aren't having births [so] my income is much less but I have to be able to put fuel in my car to be get to do my job," she said.

"Some weeks I spend more on fuel than I earn."

Fellow midwife Charlie Ferris, who also worked in the Queenstown Lakes area, said some weeks she has to spend $250 on petrol.

"I actually put half a tank in this morning at Z petrol station - I think it was about $2.46 a litre," she said.

"It's a huge concern for all self-employed people that they have to meet that cost and it's not like we can set our rates to reflect that cost all the time."

But there may be no relief in sight for people who rely on their cars for work.

Petrol company Gull said several current affairs had affected the cost of fuel, including the fall out from the US pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, US trade sanctions and the low New Zealand dollar.

Gull's pricing analyst Rohan Mehta said if international market prices kept rising, New Zealanders could soon be shelling out $3 a litre for petrol.

"A $3 [price could] ... be conceivable if we see the markets going up and up, like the international markets," he said.

Bagrie Economics managing director Cameron Bagrie said anything was possible if the geo-political climate continued to be unstable and the dollar continued to drop, but it was a win for exporters.

"A lot of what's been driving the domestic petrol prices in New Zealand at the moment has just been the outright swing of the currency," Mr Bagrie said.

"That's not great for consumers but it's certainly a good news story for the export side if the equation."

However, in Nelson, where unleaded 91 was $2.30 today, locals said they would not be impressed if petrol prices continued to rise.

For midwife Jan Scherp, she said rising fuel prices could force her to cut back on her travels.

"I would seriously have to consider how I provide my care," she said.

"I would ... then need to consider doing all of my antenatal care in a clinic as opposed to going to any of my client's houses."