Big oil makes easy target for PM
When the Prime Minister tells us that we are being fleeced by the petrol companies, you are seeing a very deliberate move by a calculating politician.
That is in contrast to the talk of kindness and waving of babies that we saw for example in New York.
That is in contrast to the broad smiles and kind words we hear at the prime ministerial drop-ins to various schools around the country where she receives blankets for the aforementioned child.
None of this is bad, but it is a reminder that she is as much politician as she is new age kumbaya cheerleader.
Her go at the price of petrol is raw politics and easy point-scoring.
Not that many will disagree with her, and that is part of the plan. In siding with us, she sides with most of us, she picks an easy target, the big ugly faceless corporates that deal in those horrible fossil fuels, so not only are they destroying the planet, they are ripping us off along the way.
But, the question remains, as it did when Judith Collins pulled out the same trick at the tail end of the National government — having fired the salvo, having laid down the accusation, what now?
Judith, of course, launched an inquiry (very Labour) and it came up with next to nothing.
The market wasn't working all that well, but then there wasn't actually a lot you could put your finger on, so that was that, as indeed it was always going to be.
Petrol companies are not ripping us off or rorting us or fleecing us. Petrol companies are operating the way most competitive businesses operate.
They charge what the market will bear for their product.
That market varies depending on where you are, how many players are in that market, how far from the production of the product you are.
It also takes into account specials and deals and discounts.
In other words it a highly variable set of circumstances that varies widely on any given day in any given location in any given city or indeed in any given neighbourhood.
There are apps that tell you where to buy, where to save, where the deals are.
There are endless competitions and incentive programmes for you to save if you want to.
And that is part of the problem in taking a very broad-based overarching view of an entire marketplace and averaging it out and suggesting we are being fleeced.
Not unlike the bag of sugar you bought. Did you buy it from the dairy, the superette or Countdown?
Was it on special? Was it a lossleader?
Did you get fleeced or did you pay what you thought you might pay?
Your con is another man's convenience.
And that is the problem the Prime Minister has bought into when she lays her charge.
Her answer is the Commerce Commission. Just what is it they're going to do? Launch a fleece hunt?
If they can do it for petrol, what else is in line? Are we being ripped off on cars, or outdoor furniture, or toilet paper?
Of course this looks a bit like a defence of big oil which it isn't.
I've got a 5 litre super-charged engine, I put 98 in, it costs $200 to fill, no one hates filling up more than me. But, is this a scam? No it is not. This is business doing business with a huge variety of variables, not least of which is the amount of tax the Government is rorting us on. You want an inquiry? Launch one into that.
Meantime all we are really dealing with is having to pay for an essential at more than we have previously, and we don't like it.
But not liking something is not being fleeced. I respond to the recent article by Brian Rudman (Opinion, October 6) which in part contained criticisms of me when I was deputy leader of New Zealand First, some 10 years ago.
He accused me of ranting, but I am not one for ranting.
I believe politics is about making people aware of concerns then reasonably and rationally debating the merits or otherwise.
Ranting does not get one anywhere, least of all in politics.
To clarify, I emigrated to New Zealand because I found it to be a fantastic country when I visited as a Merchant Navy officer. I loved it then and still do. I can honestly say I have given my very best shot for this country.
I am a firm believer that immigrants should come here to a job, be in good health, be crime free, speak reasonable English and be prepared to integrate into our society.
There could be some exceptions, but they would be few.
Mr Rudman and I have never met and although at times I was interviewed on TV, I never, ever ranted.
Thus I assume he got his information from a media release I issued in April 2008.
My opening statement in that release referred to the folly of our then “open door” immigration policy.
However, since then the Immigration Act has been rewritten in its entirety.
I was on the Select Committee which did much of the groundwork, but the act was finally passed in 2009 when I had left Parliament.
Further, of recent years I understand there have been several changes to the rules and regulations around immigration.
All of this has tightened immigration and given New Zealand more ability to select who should come in on a permanent basis.
So, perhaps it could be said that as a result of my concerns being made public things did change.
My advice to Mr Rudman is to look at what is happening in The survey on fuel prices (News, September 10) shows Gull to be among the cheapest petrol available. People seem unaware that while Gull maybe attractively priced, all fuels are not created equal. Gull undercut the competition so forcing its competitors to match its price, but with its Gull Force 10 sell a less efficient product.
Gull Force 10 98 Octane petrol is blended with 10 per cent ethanol; its 91 octane is not blended with ethanol. Ethanol contains less energy than pure mineral petrol, and so you won’t get the same mileage out of a tankful of Gull Force 10 as you would out of a tankful of say BP. Research by the Automobile Association found that Gull’s 10 per cent blend to be 8 per cent less efficient than pure mineral petrol. If you are paying say $2.30 a litre for pure petrol, then the Gull price should be $2.116.
I have yet to see Gull selling at this sort of differential. Perhaps the Prime Minister should have Gull in for a “chat”!
Also, the AA recommends (as do manufacturers) that ethanol-blended fuel not be used for marine and aviation purposes, and that you contact manufacturers or retailers of small machinery prior to using ethanol-blended fuel in lawnmowers, chainsaws and generators etc.
The Government has a responsibility, as do the media, to make sure the public are informed that the fuel price is not necessarily an indicator of value for money. Perhaps service stations should be required to display an efficiency indicator. Richard Prince Tauranga There’s not been much news re the Bella Vista debacle lately. Just a word of encouragement to the homeowners to stay strong. There is strength in unity! A. Palmer
Former NZ First MP and Deputy Leader Peter Brown.