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Government must tackle rising petrol prices.



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON KIM C BEAZLEY MP

22 June 2005

GOVERNMENT MUST TACKLE RISING PETROL PRICES

With every 20-cent-a-litre rise in petrol prices, the petrol bill for a typical Australian family increases by $8.00 a week per car.

Petrol prices are due to hit record highs next week, and the Howard Government has no plans for providing relief to Australian motorists.

The Howard Government must establish a full and independent inquiry into petrol pricing and profiteering, because motorists have a right to know how prices are set and who benefits.

The Labor Party has called on the Government to adopt a six-point plan to prevent and punish profiteering from petrol price rises, including:

• Amending the Trade Practices Act to guarantee independent wholesalers and retailers access to fuel supplies from the terminals of major oil companies on fair terms;

• Allowing independent wholesalers and retailers to bargain collectively when seeking fuel supplies from the terminals of major oil companies; • Outlawing predatory pricing under the Trade Practices Act and strengthening s46 (Abuse of Market Power); • Giving the ACCC the power to issue ‘cease and desist’ orders for

immediate relief against market abuse and anti-competitive behaviour; • New court powers to order the divestiture of assets and impose jail terms to tackle cartels and the worst cases of market abuse; and • Establishing a “Yellow Card” system, so the ACCC keeps a register of

bona fide complaints of misuse of market power to be used for assessing penalties for proven breaches of the Trade Practices Act. If these measures do not prove sufficient to alter market behaviour, criminal penalties and larger pecuniary penalties would be introduced.

Labor’s plan would also allow the market to build on the success of innovative products, such as “shopper-dockets”, which help bring down petrol prices. Australian motorists want real action on petrol prices and are sick of hearing the Howard Government attack the States.

Petrol pricing is complex. And Australians are rightfully concerned. I’m often asked why price rises are passed on so fast, but reductions take so long to be passed on.

John Howard and Peter Costello are out of touch. They have not paid a petrol bill for years and would have no idea how rocketing prices are hurting Australian families.

My message to the Howard Government is: enough spin, enough blame-shifting - do what you can to help Australian motorists.

Contact: George Svigos: 0417 196 836