COLAC fuel price campaigner Phil Edge is pleased Colac petrol prices gained a mention in a Federal Government competition law review.
“A little bit of a thank you for taking the trip to Melbourne to talk with Professor Harper, to acknowledge that we at least had a go,” Mr Edge said of the review panel’s leader.
But Mr Edge said he was disheartened the Harper Review made no specific recommendations in relation to fuel retailing, and that Colac motorists would have to rely on applications to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to review high petrol prices.
Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson said she was disappointed with the review’s finding on fuel prices, but said the panel was “open to further amendments of the competition law based on findings of ACCC”.
Ms Henderson said Small Business Minister Bruce Billson’s direction in December to the ACCC to “conduct very detailed investigations into petrol prices” in regional areas was encouraging.
“I am still fighting very hard to secure an investigation for Colac, that ministerial direction is an important part of it,” she said.
But both Ms Henderson and Mr Edge said proving abuse of market power though the ACCC was historically difficult.
Mr Edge submitted a petition with 6500 signatures to the ACCC in 2011, but the application was unsuccessful.
“The response came back, no we can’t find any evidence of collusion or malpractice in Colac,” Mr Edge said.
“I am getting to the stage where I am at a loss as to where we go from here, but I am not going to give up, still hang in there fighting,” he said.
“It would be nice if we could get a response from the retailers, but any criticism falls completely in deaf ears, it is so damn frustrating.
“The fact remains that we still pay higher prices than in surrounding areas – no one can come up with a reason why,” he said.
Professor Harper’s review is out for an eight-week consultation period, and people can submit comments online or to Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson’s office.