Northe talks fuel fiasco

Member for Morwell Russell Northe has called on the State Government to launch an investigation into Latrobe Valley fuel prices.

Speaking in parliament on Tuesday Mr Northe said locals quite rightly felt like they were being “ripped off”.

“I do wish to express concerns on behalf of local motorists and businesses in the Latrobe Valley with respect to fuel price discrepancies that strongly suggest Latrobe Valley residents are paying much higher fuel prices than communities to the east, west and south,” Mr Northe told the parliament.

He told The Express Valley fuel prices were an ongoing issue that needed investigation.

“If the ACCC and fuel retailers aren’t taking it seriously, the State Government needs to step in and undertake an investigation,” he said.

The current V/Line situation was also placing further strain on the wallets of Latrobe Valley motorists, Mr Northe argued.

“People who usually have access to public transport have to use their vehicles a lot more because of the V/Line debacle,” Mr Northe said.

“The whole transport issue in the Latrobe Valley at the moment is simply a disaster.

“I have called upon the State Government in its capacity to do what it can – I understand fuel operates in a deregulated market and there may not be a lot the State Government can do, but as the Coalition we will look at options.”

Mr Northe has again written to the ACCC, strongly requesting the organisation take action.

Morwell motorist Tony Calabro, who has spoken out against the region’s fuel prices, was pleased Mr Northe had brought the issue to parliament.

He said he was still awaiting response from the ACCC following his formal complaint.

“I am bitterly, bitterly disappointed the ACCC has not bothered to respond… they are not an efficient organisation,” Mr Calabro said.

In a statement to The Express, the ACCC said under the Competition and Consumer Act it could take action through the courts when there was evidence of illegal anti-competitive behaviour, such as collusion.

“However, high prices are not of themselves evidence of anti-competitive behaviour which may be in breach of the Act,” the statement read.

LATROBE Valley fuel prices were on par with the average Melbourne price yesterday.

According to data from the RACV, yesterday’s average unleaded fuel price in metropolitan Melbourne yesterday was 118.1 cents, while Morwell motorists were paying an average of 119.8 cents per litre.

It comes as metropolitan prices saw a 20 per cent price increase over the weekend, with prices jumping from an average of 100.4 cents per litre on Friday to 119.0 on Monday.

However, Valley prices have not seen a significant fall.

Across regional Victoria for the seven day period ending on Tuesday, Wodonga recorded the lowest average weekly price of 105.4 cents, while the highest was Corryong at 123.4 cents per litre.

The average Morwell price for the week was 120.9 cents per litre.