Cost of Living

Courgettes cost how much!? Finance Minister Grant Robertson reacts to rising inflation

Record inflation figures have confirmed what we’ve all known to be true every time we go to the supermarket, petrol pump, pay our rent, mortgage... everything.

7.3 percent - the highest its been since 1990.

It may be the peak, it’s hoped it will start nudging south, but it’s still a looong way off the reserve bank’s comfort range of 1-3 percent inflation which means we’ve still got a looong period of pain to endure yet.

The Government called a hastily organised press conference on Sunday to extend the current transport and petrol subsidies until January next year… but is it enough?

Finance Minister Grant Robertson told Tova O'Brien on Tuesday morning that the Government are continuing to look at long-term measures to further address the cost of living crisis.

"The program of work we've got around supermarket reform is vital here," said Robertson.

 "While I accept that it won't pay immediate dividends, it is the kind of thing that a Government can do. So getting more competition into our supermarket sector, we've done that by getting rid of the covenants on land.

"We're opening up the wholesale market to get more competitors in, that will ultimately drive down the price of food."

Robertson said that as part of a long-term strategy we need to be "less dependent on oil," addressing the issue in Labour's climate policies aiming to introduce more EVs into the market.

He said propositions such as fuel tax cuts will help in the short-term, though looking to the aforementioned long-term strategies will alleviate cost of living pressures down the line.

Tova mentioned the current price of courgettes - a whopping $24 a kilogram.

"We are seeing really high prices for a lot of products in the supermarket," said Robertson.

"We all know that when we go there (the supermarket) and there's a mixture of reasons for that. I'm not going to get into a debate with you about seasonal vegetable purchasing today, but I'm not going to also deny that we're seeing those high costs, and there are lots of causes for that.

"Fuel costs within the food production chain have been a really important issue. I saw on Sunday when we made the announcement, some of the truckies and others saying that what we did would help in that regard. We also end up paying export prices for a lot of things, and then we just have a lack of competition."

Roberston also said he doesn't deny that the prices for people at the supermarket are tough in the current environment.

O'Brien made a bet, parlaying a kilo of courgettes with the Finance Minister that the Government will in fact be taking a fares-free public transport policy into the election.

Robertson said Labour will be announcing its policies for the election closer to the time.

The Finance Minister and O'Brien discuss further cost of living challenges in the full interview.

Listen to the full interview between Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Tova above.

You can also download the full interview on the Tova podcast, and listen on the go. Check it out on the rova app or wherever you get your podcasts.