John Connolly, 30 January 2016

The petrol pirates’ propaganda people have been at it again. Despite all the evidence they and their allies in the motoring organisations are still trying to argue those of us in driving land are wrong and fuel prices are all kosher.

The normally conservative NT News (home to headlines such as “Horny roo stalks NT women”) said it best: ‘‘Fuel price rort a decade of lies.’’

Our car comrades up north are paying more for their diesel than anywhere else in Australia and the known universe. Chief Minister Adam Giles, a man known for understatement, said: “I spoke to some fuel companies yesterday and expressed my concern to them and said we are not going to be in this position where every time the price gouging continues I have to make a phone call to you blokes to start dropping your price.”

Giles went on to say the Northern Territory could look at producing its own fuel to support residents and shipping and resource industries hit by diesel prices.

In Victoria “industry and motoring bodies” have expressed concern that motorists are being misled by petrol prices shown on servo price boards. That is when you see a huge sign saying “6 cents off” and you miss the small print that tells you the discount is only available with a shoppers docket.

Naturally this sort of switch and bait advertising is banned in NSW and South Australia. But the petrol pirates argue that if they had to change the signs the price of petrol would have to go up. “And,” said a spokesman, “we couldn’t find a single complaint on file from a confused customer.”

Hmmm. In 2012, a meeting of Australian and New Zealand consumer ministers was told 92 per cent of motorists “indicated that they check the price of fuel on the price board before they enter a fuel station”. At the same meeting, they were told “a survey of over 800 respondents indicated that 54 per cent had driven into a service station expecting a certain price only to discover it was more expensive, including where a discounted price had been advertised”. Of course they wouldn’t complain because they know nothing would happen.

But after telling us the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission was happy with their petrol prices, ACCC boss Rod Sims this month ‘‘slammed petrol companies for failing to pass on low oil prices to motorists’’. Sims told this paper that the market is not working as competitively ‘‘as we would like it to due to lack of robust competition. Retailers’ margins were 6 or 7 cents a litre too high and international refiners’ margins were 20 cents compared to the usual 7 cents a litre’’. And Simmsy didn’t mention the price of Singapore crude or Baltic exchange rates once. But of course our former friends in the big privatised motoring organisations did as they defended the petrol pirates.

Naturally, this is a perfect segue to Jerry Seinfeld’s auction of three of his 46 Porsches, which are part of his 100-car collection. If I remember right, Seinfeld kept the three porkers in his three-storey underground garage on the Upper West Side. The star of the YouTube car- porn show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is expecting about $14 million for the fleet when Dave Gooding auctions them in March.

Everyone is excited about the 1955 550 Spyder ($8m) but not being a 356 person I will be bidding on the yellow 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 RSR race car (pictured) once driven by Revlon heir Peter Revson ($2.2m). If you weren’t factory-sponsored but simply a rich gentleperson wanting to run around Le Mans, the RSR was your only option. Gooding sold two of these for $1.8 million last year but you will pay extra for Seinfeld’s and Revson’s ownership.

Certainly, these three are a little out of the league of Jerry, Eileen and George. In Seinfeld they drove Escorts, BMWs and the very famous Cadillac Coupe de Ville.

Extracted in full from The Australian.

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