Okay, so it appears we are being ripped off at the petrol pump.

Rather than use the term "ripped off", Megan Woods said the petrol market was "broken". But then she is a minister of the Crown.

Her comment followed a meeting with BP executives, whose leaked email calling for prices to be ramped up at various lower North Island service stations has been described as "price gouging".

BP turned up at Parliament last week to explain that it was all a "misunderstanding".


So: "ripped off"; "broken"; "price gouging"; "a misunderstanding" ... take your pick.

Woods said she did not believe BP's pump-up-the-price tactics were isolated to the lower North Island nor confined to that one petrol company. She is suspicious of the whole industry.

But rather than any of the above descriptors, shouldn't we call this "good business sense"?

What legal obligation has the fuel industry to charge a price that does little more than cover its costs?

It's certainly under an obligation to its shareholders to make as much money as it can, and one way is by hiking prices as high as possible until motorists are on the verge of being forced off the road.

Plenty of other industries push their profits to the max - that is, until the punters' pips start to squeak. The difference here is that the petrol industry has become politicised, and governments like to rattle their sabres on behalf of the poor, ripped-off motorist.

But what can the Government do? And what will it do? Hmm ... don't hold your breath; get a bike instead.

While on the subject of corporate greed, Australia's banking system is being exposed by a royal commission.


Lying to government financial regulators; charging dead people fees, faking payslips, using forged documents ... it's starting to get reminiscent of Wall Street just before the global financial crisis.

And given that New Zealand's major banks are owned by the Aussie banks, there is cause for concern here ... as if their attempts to get customers to take on more and more debt were not bad enough.

So are we also being ripped off by the banks? Well, BNZ - half-year profit just announced at a handsome $490 million - assures us there is no need for an inquiry here.