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VACC, the peak automotive industry body in Victoria, has supported claims that consumers are paying too much for petrol because the Labor Government is unwilling to take on the major oil companies and their supermarket partners.
Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon and National’s Leader in the Senate, Barnaby Joyce are to jointly introduce legislation in Parliament, during the next sitting, designed to protect independent fuel retailers from predatory pricing.
The Senators want legislation that would outlaw the practice of geographic price discrimination - where the big oil companies, and Coles and Woolworths, are able to reduce prices near independently owned petrol stations.
“The independents need protection from the supermarkets and big oil companies. If the independents are driven out of business, Coles, Woolworths and the big oil chains will be able to charge whatever they like because there will be no real competition,” Senator Xenophon said.*
“VACC wholeheartedly supports these comments,” VACC Executive Director, David Purchase said.
“Independent Service Stations do provide competition to Coles and Woolworths but at a cost. It is not a level playing field as they do not have the same access to fuel at the wholesale level as the supermarkets. Therefore they have no choice but to buy high while having to sell low in order to attract customers.
“In many cases, independent service station owners are barely making a profit.
“VACC supports Senator Xenophon and Senator Joyce in calling for greater transparency surrounding the wholesale fuel price at the Terminal Gate to allow independent retailers to buy at a competitive price.
“We join them in demanding for stronger laws to stop the oil companies from bullying or undermining the independent retailers. And agree with their push for the practice of geographic price discrimination to be outlawed.
“VACC wants the ACCC, along with Petrol Commissioner, Joe Dimasi to ‘do something’. We repeat our call for decisive action and support Senators Joyce and Xenophon in tackling this important issue,” Mr Purchase said.
*April 4 2009 Media Release: Nick Xenophon and Barnaby Joyce join forces over petrol
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