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Banks, petrol companies strain public patience

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The increases in petrol prices and bank charges show the need for a tougher government attitude towards anti-competitive business practices, says Labour Commerce spokesperson Paul Swain.

"The petrol companies and banks need to understand that the public isn't fooled by their pretence of vigorous competition and nor is Labour," Mr Swain says.

"It's true the price of crude oil is rising but officials have raised questions about how fast the oil companies pass that on and whether they are increasing rather than maintaining their profits.

"Max Bradford was very quick to line up in public with Challenge when they took on the big four. Now that the companies are moving together again he meekly accepts their price hikes."

"It's a glaring contrast with his bull-headed approach to the electricity industry, but perhaps the hash he made of his electricity reforms put him off taking on anyone else."

"The petrol companies and banks look uncomfortably like cyclists in a team pursuit race, taking turns at the front to set the pace. We're supposed to believe they're competing but they all seem to be on the same side."

"Labour remains committed to light-handed market regulation where possible, but it's clear the Commerce Act needs toughening up. That's why we're committed to amendments including lower thresholds and higher penalties for anti-competitive behaviour, a consumer welfare objective, a beefed-up information disclosure regime and measures against tacit collusion."

"New Zealanders can expect the Commerce Commission under Labour to be much more aggressive in its enforcement of the Act and in defending consumers' rights."

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