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Oil companies colluding

Jim Anderton MP Thu Aug 26 1999

Jim Anderton
MPThe Commerce Commission and the Government must be the only people in the country who believe the oil companies are not in some form of collusion, Alliance leader Jim Anderton says.

He's calling for an urgent inquiry into the failure of the competitive environment in the oil industry, following announcements of yet another round of price increases and a Ministry of Commerce report showing oil companies are increasing their margins.

'New Zealanders are sick of hearing that competition means all petrol prices will be the same. It's the height of naivete to believe the oil companies all independently decide on exactly the same price strategy, and they all increase their margins by exactly the same amount at exactly the same time.

'This is a cartel. Overseas owned oil companies are levying what amounts to a private tax at the petrol pump.

'Even the notorious banking industry offers slightly differing interest rate packages to home mortgage buyers.

'In February this year, oil company margins were being driven down by competition from Challenge. Then Fletchers announced that Challenge was up for sale, and the industry expects an existing competitor to buy it. Ever since then, prices at the pump have been moving up. It shows that Challenge was providing real competition, but the major overseas companies do not compete between themselves.

'The Government should use its powers under the Commerce Act to urgently investigate collusion between the oil companies,' Jim Anderton said.

ENDS

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