The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) has passed a motion calling for a petrol price cap in country areas.

The Colac Otway Shire Council, in the state’s south-west, introduced the proposal amid fears of collusion by distributors.

The shire’s Deputy Mayor, councillor Brian Crook, said prices were “consistently” higher than the rest of the state.

“Why Colac? That’s the big question for us,” he said.

“There’s something not right, whether it’s retailers or distributors, we haven’t got the evidence but something has to change because it’s having a detrimental effect on the local economy.”

He said there was no evidence the disparity was driven by costs.

“It’s just patently not good enough and it’s not good enough that our local community should have to endure this sort of exorbitant profit taking,” he said.

“They should be made to justify why it is so exorbitant.

“It’s unbelievable that it’s coincidental when there’s so little competitive pricing going on.”

Federal Government rejects ‘ridiculous’ fuel price cap motion

The federal Minister for Small Business said he would not support the motion, labelling it “ridiculous” and “misguided”.

Bruce Billson said he had already directed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to undertake a price probe of regional Victoria.

“In Colac we’ve actually seen a price differential of 18 cents between Colac and the five major cities come down to just a handful of cents,” he said.

“The retailers and the wholesalers know that we’re watching, they know that we’re monitoring prices and they know that if there seems to be consumer detriment, that we have the capacity to dig deeply into that.

“When we do start an inquiry, we make sure that work commences before it’s publically announced so the statutory requirement that demands the production of documentation is not compromised by an advanced warning on the inquiries.

“The MAV and local councils that were concerned about this would have done well to update themselves with the facts before passing a motion of this kind.”

Extracted in full from ABC.