True to form as a Labour Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern is whipping the oil companies simply because they are private companies, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

The Government passed legislation with the support of National, allowing the Commerce Commission to investigate petrol companies. That investigation has now been announced.

“The Prime Minister has already predetermined the outcome of the investigation by saying consumers are being ‘fleeced’, showing market studies will be misused for political purposes.

“Which industries will be targeted by the coalition next?

“If the Commission finds that petrol prices are not high because of profiteering petrol companies, are they really going to say that? If they report that profiteering is the problem, will anyone trust them? Labour have damaged an important institution to win the political argument for a couple of news cycles. That isn’t leadership.

“The Commerce Commission has been asking for this power for years. It can now go after any industry it doesn’t like on the suspicion that it is uncompetitive. They have the power to demand all of the industry players’ internal information, then decide if they are making too much money or not based on theoretical calculations and models that may or may not reflect the practical realities faced by business.

“The real problem with New Zealand’s economy is a lack of scale to support more competitors. We live in a small, sparsely-populated country with fewer than five million people.

“New Zealand already has great difficulty with bureaucracy – too much red tape and regulation prevents us from raising productivity. Market studies are good politics but atrocious policy.”