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Why are we subsidising our trade deficit?

Why are we subsidising our trade deficit?

Press Release from Russel Norman, Green Party Co-Leader.

26th July 2006.

Merchandise trade figures released today show that imports of petroleum and petroleum products’ increased by $37m in June 2006 compared with June 2005, underpinning the continuation of a four-year string of trade deficits, but in spite of this we continue to subsidise roads ahead of other forms of transport, the Green Party says.

“Rising oil prices are driving rising merchandise imports, so it would make sense to invest in alternatives to road transport, such as public passenger transport and rail freight. But instead we are continuing to subsidise road transport ahead of other modes,” Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman says.

“If you look at freight transport, a 2005 Ministry of Transport study showed that truck users pay only 56% of the costs they impose on society while rail freight users pay 82%,” says Dr. Norman, the Greens’ Economics Spokesperson.

“Yet road freight transport is the most energy intensive mode of transport consuming four times as much energy for each tonne of freight per kilometre compared to rail; and nine times as much energy as coastal shipping (according to a 2000 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority report).

“So we are subsidising the most oil intensive mode of transport, road transport, and surprise surprise our petroleum imports are surging.

“The closure of the Overlander train service between Auckland and Wellington, while other countries are investing in rail, is just one more example of the short sightedness of this government’s transport policy.

“Oil consumption is also contributing to climate change, and if Al Gore can understand climate change, as in his recent documentary An Inconvenient Truth, why can’t this government? And if they can, why won’t they do anything about it when it’s also adding to our trade deficit,” asks Dr. Norman.


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