COMMENT

The petrol industry at home and abroad has been subject to hundreds of competition authority inquiries. The market study by our Commerce Commission took 424 pages to sit on the fence. About the only time a competition authority anywhere finds a smoking gun is when a whistle-blower squeals on a couple of neighbouring petrol stations phoning around to end their latest price war.

The commission found excess profits because if you torture the data for long enough, it will confess.

But first, I digress across the ditch to the hub of the matter. When I worked on the Australian Productivity Commission's 1994 public inquiry into petrol pricing, everyone agreed that the only thing that made petrol

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