The Motor Trade Association says the Government has failed independent service station operators and missed the opportunity to create to truly competitive fuel market.

“Sadly for New Zealand motorists, the Bill passed last night is not going to make it fairer for all those in the market and is definitely not allowing smaller players to gain access to cheaper fuel,” MTA Chief Executive Craig Pomare said today.

Mr Pomare said the MTA was deeply disappointed the Government had chosen to ignore the plight of the more than 500 independent retailer sites around the country.

“These are typically family-owned ‘mum and dad’ businesses, tied into long-term contracts with one of the major oil companies.

“The wording in the Bill specifically excludes these businesses from being released from supply contracts that are longer than the maximum proposed under new regulations.”

Mr Pomare said this left the independents excluded from the legislative safeguards available to other players in the market and unable to escape restrictive and burdensome long-term supply contracts.

“What is so disappointing is that this could have been sorted with a single word change,” Mr Pomare said.

“As we said in our Submission and presentation to the Select Committee and in discussions with officials, all that was required was changing the word “distributors” to “resellers” in certain clauses in the Bill, so that those independents were included.

“That would have made a world of difference for motorists and for those hard-working business people already struggling under the economic impact of the pandemic.”

Mr Pomare said the MTA understood the Government wanted the Bill passed before the General Election.

“But surely a simple one word change that would have made the legislation better could have been made without delaying its progress.”