Election year jitters in the Beehive are thought to be behind the sudden decision of competition watchdog the Commerce Commission to investigate retail milk prices, less than a week after telling a Parliamentary select committee it would not do so.and
While the commission in a statement late yesterday said Commerce Minister Simon Power had not asked it to initiate a dairy price control inquiry, the turnaround is likely to be politically charged, Wellington and dairy industry sources suggest.
The [commerce] commission in its statement yesterday said "a number of parties" had laid specific complaints about the retail price of milk and called for an inquiry. But when pressed on this, a spokeswoman could only say that "a number" of informal approaches had been made to the commission by people unhappy about the price of milk since January. The commission did not discuss specific complaints, she said.and
An observer close to the situation was sceptical.The real downside to all of this is that it makes the Commerce Commission look politicised and that is a very bad look for an "independent" body like the commission.
"This is about rising milk prices in election year. It takes it off the radar screen for a few months - takes it off the front page. You know how long it takes the Commerce Commission to do anything."