1 Oct 2020

Labour pledges grocery, building supply market studies

1:39 pm on 1 October 2020

Labour is promising to conduct market studies to ensure New Zealanders are paying a fair price for groceries and building supplies, if re-elected.

Jacinda Ardern gives an update on the Covid-19 Alert Levels for the country on 21 September in Auckland.

Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

Party leader Jacinda Ardern and commerce and consumer affairs spokesperson Kris Faafoi made the announcement while visiting Pic's peanut butter factory in Nelson today, where she was given a 2kg jar of the local product.

She says Labour will conduct market studies for supermarkets and building supplies, to provide the information needed to take action.

"By gathering and analysing information on a market, the Commerce Commission will identify whether there are features preventing it from working well. The Commission will then look at the effects of features identified and consider how they can best be addressed," the policy document stated.

It said New Zealand has one of the most concentrated grocery retail sectors in the world and there has been some evidence to suggest competition problems do exist.

Ardern said good progress was being made in easing financial pressures on families, but the market studies would ensure the cost of living was fair.

Faafoi said the information the studies collected would "allow us to put in place any necessary regulatory and policy solutions that ensure consumers are paying a fair price, that innovation in the market is not stifled, and that access and competition are appropriate".

The studies would be similar to the one by the Commerce Commission which investigated supply of petrol and diesel for land transport, which cost an estimated $2.5 million and led to a law requiring the sector to advertise wholesale pricing to increase transparency.

Seymour claims policy 'completely political'

ACT leader David Seymour said the announcement showed Labour was a "fair-weather friend to small business".

"It claims to want competition, but it created a monopoly during lockdown," he said in a statement. "I heard of butchers crying on the side of the road as the second Auckland lockdown came into effect ... now Labour's done a complete 180 turn and wants to investigate the supermarkets."

"The timing of this announcement shows it's completely political."

He said Labour could have begun these market studies at any time in the past two years.

"Labour is weaponising the Commerce Commission against business during an election campaign ... what businesses need is clear rules of the game and less regulation and red tape."

He said ACT would place a three-year moratorium on raising the minimum wage and reinstate 90-day trials for all businesses to give employers confidence to hire more people.

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