NORTHERN Tablelands MP has blasted the consumer watchdog for an “overblown” report on the Armidale petrol market, which states the obvious – the city’s “consumers are getting screwed”.
Adam Marshall said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) investigation was expected to deliver fairer prices for motorists, but instead, it pointed out the problem and offered no solutions.
“I received the report this morning and am still scratching my head 72 pages later – this report contains no new information and certainly delivers no outcome or action,” Mr Marshall said.
“To say that I am disappointed with this outcome after such a long wait doesn’t even begin to describe my impressions.
“To summarise, the report finds that Armidale consumers are getting screwed, but nothing is going to be done about it.”
The report found a lack of competition has led to consistently high prices in the city, with consumers paying an average of 8 cents per litre more than motorist in metro areas, while also facing higher prices than nearby smaller towns such as Glen Innes and Inverell.
Caltex, Coles Express and Woolworths dominate Armidale’s market, claiming claim an 86 per cent share.
Mr Marshall said to simply make the conclusions without any steps to stop price gouging gave “tacit approval” for the practices to continue.
He also dismissed the lack of competition as the main cause of the city’s higher prices.
“If the lack of competition in Armidale – there are nine fuel retail sites – is a reason, I would point out that Invergowrie, Black Mountain and Delungra with just one outlet each, are almost always cheaper than Armidale,” Mr Marshall said.
“The response from the ACCC is simply not up to mark and I will be taking this back to them to see how basic consumer protections can be maintained in the bush.
“Perhaps it is time for some further forensic questioning of the ACCC to get to the bottom of this matter.
“If the ACCC does not have the powers to curtail cartel pricing practices, then the Commissioner should explain why.”
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