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Costello should green light ACCC investigation on fuel price hike.



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Wayne Swan MP Federal Labor Shadow Treasurer 7 April 2006

Costello Should Green Light ACCC Investigation on Fuel Price Hike

Federal Labor believes Peter Costello should stop stalling on the Easter petrol price hike and direct the ACCC to formally monitor petrol price rises.

Despite fuel prices redlining well above $1.30 per litre in the lead up to the Easter break the Treasurer has refused to direct the ACCC to formally monitor petrol prices.

Under Part 7A of the Trade Practices Act the ACCC has the power to formally monitor petrol prices, but only if the Treasurer directs it to do so. Formal price monitoring allows the ACCC to use its compulsory information acquisition powers if necessary.

During the last petrol price hike in September last year, Federal Labor sent a letter to the ACCC requesting a clarification on their role in investigating petrol prices.

In his reply, dated October 7 2005, the Chairman of the ACCC Graeme Samuel confirmed that the ACCC had never used it powers to formally monitor petrol prices.

Mr Samuel also confirmed that the ACCC was powerless to undertake formal petrol price monitoring until the Treasurer directed it to do so.

According to Mr Samuel;

It is the case that the ACCC cannot initiate formal price surveillance activities under Part VIIA of the TPA without a formal direction from the Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer or a Minister Acting for and on behalf of the Treasurer.

That means until Peter Costello green-lights formal petrol price monitoring, the ACCC is stuck in neutral.

If Peter Costello understood the pressure high petrol prices place on most household budgets he would direct the ACCC to begin formal price monitoring immediately.

ENDS Fri 7 April 06

Contact : Lachlan Harris 0417 592 338