If you’ve filled up your car recently you’ll have noticed an unpleasant sting at the cash register.
The national average price for unleaded reached a painful $1.53 in Australia last month. While that’s not good news for cash strapped Aussies, spare a thought for those across the ditch.
Facing unprecedented prices at the pump, New Zealand’s government is rushing to investigate why its citizens are paying the highest pre-tax petrol prices in the developed world.
Kiwis have on average been paying the equivalent of a record-high AU$2.20 (NZ$2.41) and significantly more in some areas.
Amid opposition calls for the government to drop recent increases to petrol levies and threats of a boycott by angry drivers, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday announced her administration would be jamming through a bill aimed at investigating competition in markets.
‘In 2008 we had one the lowest pre-tax costs in the OECD. Today, New Zealand has the highest,’ she said.
‘Some of that cannot be explained. I do not think that is acceptable.’
Earlier attempts to probe the petrol industry were hindered by some companies refusing to hand over their information and the new law — expected to be passed in the next two weeks — would compel them to open their books, while giving the commerce watchdog greater powers to look into margins.
The international price of crude has spiked over the past year and the kiwi dollar is at a low, both contributing to the price. But Ms Ardern said the importer margin had also grown from 7% in 2008 to 16% in 2018.
‘Consumers, in my book, are being fleeced,’ she said.
The opposition National Party, meanwhile, called for the government to also drop a recent increase in fuel excise, saying it was the pot calling the kettle black.
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The Australian Tribune with AAP