Mr Joe Dimasi, the new Petrol Commissioner, recently acknowledged that he has written to all the major oil companies "asking them" to explain the high petrol prices. The ACCC, which is increasingly been referred to as "toothless", is said to be working hard to break down the barriers that prevent greater competition at the wholesale level in the petrol market.
Nonetheless, VACC Executive Director, David Purchase is not happy:
“Mr Dimasi does not need to write to the oil companies. He should already have all the evidence he needs at his finger-tips from previous investigations. What he really needs to be doing right now is taking the oil companies to task,” Mr Purchase said.
Nor do we blame him, there are only so many letters and requests that can be sent before proper action needs to be taken. The VACC has requested that Mr Dimasi immediately look at the operation of the wholesale petrol market and the issue of Terminal Gate Prices.
According to VACC the biggest losers here (apart from the consumers) are independent service station owners who are being denied a fair price. With the independents unable to compete fairly, there is an immediate pricing disadvantage discouraging competition in the market.
“For too long the oil majors have enjoyed top-to-bottom control of the petrol industry and the ACCC admitted as such, referring to the ‘comfortable oligopoly’ in the 2007 Inquiry. Until someone comes out swinging, then the oil majors will continue to rule the roost and give the Petrol Commissioner the run-around.
Meanwhile the Rudd government's national Fuelwatch Scheme is under scrutiny once again with VACC labelling the system as flawed.
What should/can the Federal government do to reduce petrol prices?