Home > Dollars & Sense, The Body Politic > Blogger lays complaint with Commerce Commission

Blogger lays complaint with Commerce Commission


Commerce commission logo


As of today,  1 April 2013, this blogger has laid a complaint with the Commerce Commission regarding National minister’s questionable dealings with Rio Tinto and proposed subsidies for electricity prices,


2:20 PM

to me

Your details

Your address

Your complaint

  • Business you are complaining about: New Zealand Government
  • Street: Molesworth St
  • Suburb: Thorndon
  • City/Region: Wellington
  • Post code: 6160
  • Business Contact Number/ Mobile number: (4) 817 9999

Description of complaint

What happened?
Tony Ryall has recently announced that the NZ Government is intervening directly in negotiations between Meridian Energy and Rio Tinto (which is 80% owner of Tiwai Aluminium Smelter).

Mr Ryall has said,

“With this in mind, the Government has been in contact with Pacific Aluminium’s international parent company Rio Tinto this week to discuss helping to bridge the gap in their positions over the short to medium term, if this could be of assistance in concluding an agreement.

“In the meantime, we understand Meridian’s existing contract with Pacific Aluminium remains in place at least until 1 January 2016 with significant financial and other obligations beyond that.”

Ryall added that “all relevant information – including about the smelter electricity contract – will be reflected in the Mighty River Power offer document which is currently being finalised”.

Source: NZ Herald, Govt steps in to sort out stalled Tiwai power deal ( http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10874174)

I therefore submit the following;

(1) This appears to be a prima facie case of the NZ Government manipulating the future stock price of Mighty River Power (and other state owned powercos), by offering a subsidy to Rio Tinto.

(2) This subsidy is not available to any other company nor individual.

(3) As such, I submit that the NZ Government’s intention to subsidise electricity that is provided to Rio Tinto is done with a view to reduce competition in the market.

Specifically, I draw the Commission’s attention to the Commerce Act 1986; sections 27, 30, and related clauses.

(4) Furthermore, I submit that if any other corporation, company, institution, or individual attempted such an act, that they would be deemed to be guilty of price fixing and manipulation of the market.

I await your response and thank you for your consideration of my complaint.

-Frank Macskasy


I will keep readers posted as to what, if anything results from this complaint.




Relevant sections

Section 27: Restrictive trade practices


commerce act 1986 section 27



Section 30: Price fixing


commerce act 19868 section 30





= fs =

  1. Akdnut
    1 April 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Nice one Frank – but I have a feeling the Govt will just ignore, divert or covertly instruct the Commission to not find for or against.

    • 1 April 2013 at 4:02 pm

      Akdnut – I wouldn’t be at all surprised. Key’s fingers seem to reach everywhere. After all, he is mates with the Director of the GCSB, we learned recently…

  2. Robert Glennie
    1 April 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Would that not be corrupt practise though, Akdnut?

  3. D Weisz
    1 April 2013 at 3:50 pm

    ….. I can hear a, “Labour did it, it’s Labours fault!” Ha-ha! Wankers!

    • 1 April 2013 at 4:00 pm

      Oh yeah, that thought crossed my mind as well, Denny. If I get interviewed, I’ll make sure to mention that this time, Key can’t blame Labour or anyone else, as he habitually does… That’ll raise a few blood pressures on the Ninth Floor… 😀

  4. 1 April 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Good work Frank! Have you sent a copy of your complaint to all NZ MPs?

    • 1 April 2013 at 3:58 pm

      Penny, yep, I sent it to the Opposition Party leaders, and to Clayton Cosgrove. Also, the main media. This may be a news item by tomorrow morning…

  5. mcclairy
    1 April 2013 at 4:00 pm

    You have done your homework Frank and good on you. Have you thought of posting this to the opposition parties – they are not doing a great job on this or is the MSM at fault in not doing its job in holding the government of the day to account including reporting opposition attacks – if any? Maybe people responding to this posting could assist in writing L2Ed of their regional newspapers, or even the city newspapers, putting it in their own words what you are saying ? I am not into talk back radio but maybe others have that time, it’s worth a try. My L2Ed on another tack of MRP sale to the Herald has not been published, not surprising, it was rather defamatory on JK’s links with Lazard Australasia fronting the sales and Lazard’s links with ML/BofA/GS and their role in the sale world wide of State Asset Sales. A lucrative department in all of these 4 banks. Tiwai Point fiasco should be the killer of this privatization if integrity and ethical behaviour has a look in but have lost that hope since the lies leading the West into wars in the Middle East and North Africa make Tiwai insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

    • 1 April 2013 at 4:05 pm

      I like the Letters to the editor idea, McClairy. Like you, I’m not much of a fan of rantback radio… it kills my neuron-cells…

      I’ll scrape a few addresses together. And if folks want a hand drafting a letter, I can certainly help. (I’ve written one or two things in my life.)

    • 1 April 2013 at 5:45 pm

      Further to McClairy’s suggestion;

      If people want to support the call for a Commerce Commission inquiry into National’s actions on this issue, email addresses are listed here: https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/media-contacts/

      Please note that I can assist anyone who wants a hand putting a letter together.

  6. 1 April 2013 at 5:45 pm

    While we’re at it, has anyone gone to the Press Council over Narelle Henson’s Waikato Times front-pager on ‘work-shysters’?

    • 1 April 2013 at 11:22 pm

      Has she written something else, Deep Red? I’m aware of one article she penned for the Waikato Times, “Dole queues long but bosses can’t get workers”.

      • 2 April 2013 at 12:01 am

        She’s written concern troll op-eds on gay marriage and the living wage, but other than that, she’s new to the Waikato Times.

  7. Alison A Smith
    1 April 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Is there any way we can take an action similar to a class action, if a large number of people support the same complaint?

  8. rolf
    1 April 2013 at 6:10 pm

    They will “Kim Dotcom” you if you make waves

  9. 1 April 2013 at 8:30 pm

    Way to go Frank keep up the good work.

  10. aj
    1 April 2013 at 8:50 pm

    but the government had to step in due to them having a binding contract with the smelter when they brought manapori power station off them. meridian energy doesnt accept the main contract and thats why they make a 5yearly contract with the smelter.

    so you are complaining about the government who are abaiding by a contract they made many years ago. yes it may help them out with other things but if the smelter goes under it means they have to do alot of work on the lower half of the national power grid, due to manapori not feeding the national grid, only the lower part which will not be able to take up that extra power that the smelter is using.

    • 1 April 2013 at 11:36 pm

      Actually, Aj, the binding contract was between Meridian Energy and Rio Tinto’s subsidiary, New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Ltd (NZAS). In 2007, a new contract was signed between Meridian and Rio Tinto/NZAS. The contract is not set to expire until 1 January 2016.

      Rio Tinto is the party to this agreement that wants to break the contract and re-negotiate it. They are attempting to blackmail Meridian’s shareholders (us, via the government).

      As to the rest of your post, I suspect you’re not getting the whole picture here.

      For one thing, the smelter will not “go under” as you seem to think. Rio Tinto has millions invested in this facility and it would take years to close down; deconstruct the entire structure; and return the area to it’s natural state – as per it’s obligations.

      Secondly, I’m not sure where you’re getting that “due to manapori not feeding the national grid”. In fact, Manapouri is indeed connected to the rest of the country’s national grid via two double-circuit transmission lines.

      Perhaps the questions you should be asking are;:

      1. Why are New Zealanders not getting the same deal that Rio Tinto is currently getting (heavily subsidised power)?

      2. Why won’t National offer any new subsidies to all of us? With the hundreds of millions in profits, the power companies can certainly afford it. (see my previous blogpost: https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/319-million-reasons-not-to-part-privatise-our-power-companies/)

      3. What happens to investors once the subsidies are taken of power for Tiwai Pt? Remember, Tony Ryall is offering only a “short to medium term” subsidy. Why happens afterwards? And is it fair to sell shares in SOE powercos with only a limited subsidy?

      4. Is the subsidy designed to keep shares in the SOE powercos artificially high? *(Of course it is.)

      5. What will Rio Tinto do once the short/medium term subsidies are closed? Will Rio Tinto threaten the government again?

      6. How many times will we, as a country, be blackmailed by the likes of Rio Tinto, Warner Bros, oil-drilling companies, etc?

      A few questions to ponder, I think.

  11. D Weisz
    2 April 2013 at 8:21 am

    PinoKeyo has just said the deals off? For how long? It makes it very clear to me that 1. We’re broke 2. It ain’t over yet? 3. He’s told Rio Tinto that he only bails out private sector businesses with billions of NZ tax payers dollars not millions dummies! Come back with a ridiculous offer & he’ll accept it! – Watch this space … it aint over?? PS – Rio Tinto and institutional brokers have been stock piling ally for years in massive warehouses around the world. They’ve built a mining town in Mongolia that stores the stuff too.

  12. Theodore
    5 April 2013 at 7:21 am

    I wouldn’t believe anything Key sez on this deal. Any deal will be in secret.That’s how the guy operates.

  1. 30 April 2013 at 2:06 pm

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