darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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FUEL PRICE CONCERNS TAKEN TO MINISTER AND ACCC

July 27, 2012

Gippsland and Latrobe Valley motorists are owed an explanation from fuel suppliers who continue to charge higher prices in regional communities, according to Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester and State MP Russell Northe.

The two MPs say they have been inundated with complaints about fuel prices in recent weeks and they have sought an explanation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, as well as the Federal Government.

Both MPs said they were aware that high fuel prices were severely impacting on family budgets and they had not received any plausible reason for the disparity between the city and several towns across Gippsland.

“There are clear differences in the price of fuel as you venture from town to town in Gippsland which is frustrating motorists and causing widespread concern in the region,” Mr Chester said.

“It is illogical that fuel can be cheaper in Bairnsdale than it is in Traralgon, yet we are constantly told that cartage costs are to blame.

“It is important that these concerns are heard at the highest level and I have raised them with the Minister and the ACCC.”

Mr Chester said Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson and the ACCC had responded to the concerns raised in recent weeks.

Minister Ferguson stated in a written response that the government understood the concern over the price increases and that “an efficient and competitive global market is the most effective means to deliver the lowest possible price to consumers”.

Minister Ferguson continued: “crude oil and petroleum fuels, including LPG, are internationally traded commodities with prices determined by the operation of market forces. As such, Australian prices reflect international prices to encourage investment in the Australian exploration, extraction and refining industries”.

In a letter from Chief Executive Officer Brian Cassidy, the ACCC acknowledged that: “international fuel prices have declined over recent months and as a result we are seeing these price reductions flow through to retail prices in the major cities within seven to 10 days”.

However, Mr Cassidy continued: “the ACCC has found that it takes longer for these prices to flow through in the regional areas, which appears to be due to the lower volumes sold and the lower levels of competition in regional areas”.

Mr Northe said the excuses were wearing thin with local motorists.

“While neither the Federal Government nor the ACCC regulates or sets the price of petrol, Darren and I are keen to take the concerns of frustrated motorists and bring them to their attention,” Mr Northe said.

“At the same time, the major suppliers need to explain the price differences. How can prices peak in the Latrobe Valley and then reduce again in parts of East Gippsland but still remain above city levels?”

Concerns over fuel prices at a specific location can also be raised with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on 1300 302 502.

More information on what drives fuel prices in regional Australia can also be found at www.accc.gov.au/fuel

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