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Consumer NZ supports calls for tougher monitoring of petrol prices.

Thursday 8th May 2008

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Chief executive Sue Chetwin says, "New Zealand urgently needs a petrol commissioner with similar powers to the commissioner just appointed by the Federal Government in Australia, to make sure Kiwi motorists are not being ripped off."

Consumer NZ believes the commissioner should be based in the Commerce Commission and have the power to order companies to adjust their prices if they are too high or issue fines, monitor the price of petrol, diesel and LPG on a daily basis and check refining margins and crude oil prices.

While Consumer NZ welcomed Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel's announcement that the government was considering closer monitoring of petrol, Chetwin said, "we want it to go further and bring in price-enforcement powers if needed."

Consumer NZ believes an independent commissioner would be better than the government cutting GST or petrol tax, because the government would want to catch up its tax shortfalls somewhere else.

In April, BP - New Zealand's largest oil company - hiked petrol prices four times (from $1.779 to $1.889). The other four major oil companies usually followed suit straight after, which Consumer NZ says shows a lack of meaningful competition in the market.

The four main oil companies own 73% of New Zealand's only oil refinery, which produces 60% of our refined-oil products.

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