Predictions from prestigious Australian research institute CSIRO that petrol could cost up to AUS$8 - about NZ$10 - per litre within a decade means we need to rapidly change course to avoid serious economic disarray, Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman says.
"Petrol at that price would make the Government's entire motorway building project a white elephant - modern day Easter Island statues. Our new motorways would be monuments to short sightedness and profligate waste of resources.
"Governments even contemplating building motorways like the billion dollar-plus Transmission Gully project in Wellington or the $2 billion Waterview tunnel project in Auckland are seriously out of touch with reality," Dr Norman says.
"We need to rapidly and urgently invest in decent public transport in our cities, towns and provinces. It is expensive but no more so than building useless new motorway projects.
"We need to work with sectors exposed to higher oil prices such as freight transport, fisheries and agriculture to develop plans and start making investments that enable us to cope with much higher oil prices.
"We also need to invest in high speed broadband that will allow us to work and communicate more easily without travelling so much.
"We have no choice but to move to a far less oil-dependent economy, because rising prices will give us no choice.
"The choice we do have is to make that transition in a measured way, using our brains to see that while we may not like what's heading our way we have no choice but to prepare for it.
"Easter Island statues might look interesting but the society that produced them was wiped out in part because of the cost of making them. Let's not follow the Easter Islanders."