ACCC approach ‘not enough’: MP and distributor O’Dowd
SOME regional MPs have indicated that the ACCC’s approach will not do enough to curb rampant price gouging.
Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd has distributed for more than 20 years. “I can’t see how the ‘pump price’ can fluctuate by over 20 cents per litre from town to town or service station to service station,” he said.
“I might also add that the number of independent service stations has declined over the years and I wouldn’t recommend anyone going out and buying one without closely looking at the balance sheet, profit margins, overheads and bottom lines.”
Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce said high prices were a “serious concern” in his electorate, and said “government has a role to play” in areas not open to market forces.
Victorian MP Sharman Stone said towns in her electorate of Murray were being “held captive” by petrol retailers, and increased ACCC powers were the best way to stop the price gouging.
She said hefty fines beyond “a few thousand dollars” should be imposed on companies found to be ripping off motorists. The ACCC can only pursue court-ordered fines and penalties where it can be proved companies have colluded in setting the price.
“If a company can’t demonstrate how the additional cost has been incurred, then that company should not be allowed to charge a higher margin in a country area compared with a metropolitan area,” Ms Stone said. She said her calls were likely to go unheeded by colleagues in city seats, whose “let the market rip” attitudes were letting her constituents down.