Annika Smethurst & John Dagge, 21 January 2016

CAR-loving senator Ricky Muir has called on the Turnbull Government to consider new laws to stop motorists being ripped off at the bowser.

The crossbench senator vowed to take the fight against high petrol prices to Canberra and has already won the support of some of his Senate colleagues.

Melbourne petrol prices ­averaged $1.20 a litre last week, despite world oil prices falling to a 10-year low.

Senator Muir told the Herald Sun it was time to review the present legislation and consider “stronger powers” to pursue and penalise gouging.

“It is no secret that when the price of a barrel of fuel goes up, the cost to the consumer seems to be passed on even before the next delivery of fuel arrives,” Senator Muir said.

“Sadly, there always seems to be some excuse as to why the same does not happen when the price of a barrel drops.”

Under pressure from angry motorists, Australia’s corporate watchdog this week put petrol companies on notice, claiming both the retail and refinery margins were too high.

But petrol retailers have shrugged off the warning, with retail margins hitting record highs.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has also started holding informal meetings with major petrol retailers, arguing motorists are not receiving the full benefit of a dramatic plunge in the oil price.

The price of crude oil has fallen by more than 70 per cent in the past 18 months, while petrol prices are only down 20 per cent.

Retail petrol margins, the difference between what a fuel station buys petrol for and what it sells it for, hit a new high of 14.6 cents a litre after stations were put on notice.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims yesterday said consumers were paying six to seven cents too much for petrol.

Senator Muir said the watchdog needed more powers to act.

Fellow Victorian crossbench senator John Madigan backed calls for an “open, transparent, competitive and fair” pricing system.

“High petrol prices hit hardest those living in rural and regional areas on low incomes,” Senator Madigan said.

“Petrol is an essential product and rorting by anyone in the supply chain is unacceptable.”

annika.smethurst@news.com.au

Extracted in full from the Herald Sun.

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