Live now
Start time
Playing for
End time
Listen live
Up next
Listen live on

Mike's Minute: Government commissioned studies will amount to nothing

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 5 Sep 2023, 10:10AM

Mike's Minute: Government commissioned studies will amount to nothing

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 5 Sep 2023, 10:10AM

One of the reasons the Grocery Commissioner will largely amount to nothing is that they battle with ideas, as opposed to specifics. 

And ideas can't be regulated. 

As part of the Commerce Commission's review into supermarkets they found some of them bought land and prevented competitors opening near them. That is a 'specific' and you can change those rules, and they did. 

You can also change the rules around how long it takes to pay someone like a supplier, so if they decide 120 days is too long they can make it 90 days. 

But the relationships, the so-called bullying, the idea that a huge player lauds it over a smaller player can not, and will not, be fixed, anymore than having a Grocery Commissioner will drop the price of lamb. 

It's the same with petrol. We did a market study on the price of petrol. Is it down or is it priced the way it has always been priced, on the price of oil and transport? 

They have talked a big game on building supplies, on supermarkets and now on banks. I note S&P, one of the world's biggest ratings agencies, said that study will make little or no difference to the way banks operate, and they are right. 

If you want to make it slightly political, it is one of the many reasons the Government will lose office in a few weeks. A lot of what they talked about versus what they actually did, didn't translate. They're big on theory, not so much on delivery. 

In these cases their fundamental understanding, or lack of, business nouse undid them and led to the inevitably disappointing results. 

There is plenty of competition in supermarkets if you shop around. You don’t lack choice and never have. 

If you live in a small town you have less choice than a city. If it rains the price of lettuces goes up, there are specials and end of aisle deals. 

What the promise was made on was two-fold; are supermarkets big and seem rich? Yes. And do you pay too much for your groceries? Yes. 

But that is emotion. They tapped into the emotion that you were getting ripped off, that you weren't getting a good deal and that they were robber barons. 

Well, go check your price of lamb or your litre of petrol or your box of nails or your mortgage rate. Has anything changed because the Government said it would and did a study into it or rolled out a commissioner? 

I won't hold my breath waiting for the answer. 

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you