What’s the difference between Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Shane Jones this week?
When it comes to using big corporates as punching bags to score political points, not a lot.
And that’s all this week’s brouhaha about petrol and supermarket prices was. Political point scoring.
It’s an old trick many of us learn in the school yard. If you’re in trouble for something, find someone else you can blame for a bigger offence. The old cry of Johnny-punched-first. Or even better, Johnny punched first, and harder, and probably wouldn’t have stopped unless the teacher arrived.
That’s essentially what the PM’s done by accusing petrol retailers of “fleecing” Kiwis.
She pointed the finger elsewhere in the hope of distracting Kiwis from her own Government’s role in the petrol price rise.
It’s a raw flank for the Government. Not only because the Government itself raised the price by a whopping 14 cents in Auckland and 3.5 cents in the rest of the country. And that’s in the space of three months. But also because it reminds motorists of the broken promise. Remember no new taxes?
As well as the extra 15 cents, the Government is also getting an extra five cents a litre through GST on the higher retail price.
Realistically, the inquiry into petrol prices could end up doing what every other review has. Nothing.
The Commerce Commission is only acquiring powers to investigate petrol prices, but not to actually do anything about them.
This is a key point. Now it is possible their investigation will reveal useful information. But it is the Government that needs to then make decisions on them, and short of setting up Kiwifuel, can’t see them able to do much.