Commerce and energy ministers Lianne Dalziel and David Parker hit out at "alarming" rises of up to 12 per cent in Wellington and parts of the South Island, and said they would seek Cabinet approval for an inquiry.
But National's energy spokesman, Gerry Brownlee, said the promise of an inquiry was too little, too late, after a 48 per cent rise in domestic power prices in the past five years.
"Suddenly, on the eve of an election, they announce a review ... After nine long years and regular complaints about the state of transmission and generation, they are trying to pretend they will do something about it."Mr Brownlee questioned whether a review would carry any more clout than the recent inquiry into petrol prices, which found no evidence of anti-competitive behaviour among petrol companies
But the stuffy, prudish but elegant Queen Bee at Wellington Hive points to a cracker of an idea from Fran O'sullivan to open the government books this week to allow for better planning in the face of the global financial crisis.
Neither leader has any excuse for failing to inject a reality check at this juncture. Clark has had nearly a decade of golden economic weather under her belt during her prime ministership.Bloody good thinking from Fran ... Top chick and smart with it.
This may have lulled her into a sense of false security. But she was Deputy Prime Minister after the 1987 international sharemarket crash and should be well aware how long it took for the New Zealand economy to climb back as our companies found themselves well down the pecking order in the hunt for international equity.
Key - who also ought to know better given his financial trading background - still appears to be clinging to the notion that his party's "well-structured economic plan" will ensure the New Zealand economy is hermetically sealed from the global shocks.
But the upcoming hunt for international credit will impose constraints on New Zealand irrespective of the underlying health of our companies in much the same ways they were impacted in the late 1980s/early 1990s.
Neither prospective Prime Minister seems to have grasped the nettle - at least publicly - that their plans to buy our votes at this year's election also need to be urgently recast.
Continuing on their respective "default" modes (Clark promising more cash to Labour's people and Key promising another round of tax cuts without compensating expenditure cuts) is questionable as will be obvious on Monday.
On that day, the parlous state of the Crown's coffers will be confirmed as Treasury releases the pre-election economic and fiscal update.