The increasing price of petrol is causing
hardship for one in two Australian drivers, according to a new Morgan Poll – and the Prime Minister is trying to pre-empt the pain.

Australians say rising fuel prices are
causing “serious” financial hardship for them or someone in their household,
Morgan finds. To pay the increased costs of running a car, 41 per cent of
Australian drivers say they are “spending less on other things”, 30 per cent
“saving less” and six per cent are “borrowing more on a credit card or other
loan”.

Rising mortgages, rising fuel prices and
rising inflation is a nasty mixture for any politician – and the Prime Minister
went to extraordinary lengths to place petrol prices out of his hands on radio
during his visit to Queensland yesterday:

PRESENTER:
What is going to be, what is the hardest thing for these kids do you reckon
about Prime Ministering would you say, what has been the hardest over the last
year? It has been a hell of a year, an amazing year?

PRIME
MINISTER: The hardest thing in a way is when you know people are being hurt by
something that you can’t do much about: petrol prices.

PRESENTER:
Yes.

PRIME
MINISTER: I mean the thing that is really biting into family pockets now, more
than anything else is petrol prices and it’s a problem all over the world and I
worry about it a lot because I wish I could do something to, in a big way, I
mean you can fiddle at the margins, but the main reason is that the price of
crude oil around the world has gone up and that has affected the cost of petrol
at every bowser in the world.

And bananas cause inflation and today’s
interest rate rise is all to do with the independent – let me repeat that, independent
– Reserve Bank Board…

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Peter Fray
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