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Daily Telegraph (Australia): Oil companies trying to ‘kill competition’

Article from: AAP
By Peter Veness
August 21, 2007 12:33pm

MAJOR petrol companies Shell and Caltex are trying to run competitors BP and Mobil out of business, a petrol inquiry was told today.

Motor Traders Association chief executive Michael Delaney said the attempt by Shell and Caltex would create a huge market duopoly.

Mr Delaney made the comments under questioning from Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Graeme Samuel on the first day of a public inquiry into petrol prices.

Mr Samuel asked Mr Delaney if Shell and Caltex were actively working with their supermarket partners Coles and Woolworths to push BP and Mobil out of the market.

“That would seem to make sense,” Mr Delaney told the inquiry.

Earlier today, Mr Samuel had offered the association the opportunity to give confidential testimony to the inquiry on the issue of collective bargaining amongst independent service stations.

The inquiry will continue today with testimony from both the Service Station Association and the National Association of Retail Grocers of Australia.

Mr Samuel opened the inquiry by promising to pursue the truth in the next month of hearings.

“It (the inquiry) will be conducted by us in a totally non-political and totally independent and totally rigorous fashion,” Mr Samuel said.

“The ACCC is an absolutely independent regulatory body.”

Meanwhile, the Queensland Government has ordered an inquiry into why the state’s fuel subsidy is not being passed on fully to motorists.

Queensland motorists receive a state government fuel subsidy of 8.354 cents a litre but Premier Peter Beattie said up to $125 million of the $541 million a year subsidy was not going to motorists.

Former Federal Court judge Bill Pincus QC will head the inquiry, which will report back by November.

In January, the Government ordered a crackdown on petrol retailers, who were accused of rorting the fuel subsidy but a  six-month investigation found they were not to blame, Mr Beattie said.

http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,22282038-5001024,00.html 

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