7 Jun. 2007

PM's Petrol Price Ping-Pong Politics

Hear Howard's mighty roar: This petrol rip-off must stop! Howard always cites fluctuations on the Singapore index as proof that Aussie petrol prices (up to $1.40 in Sydney this week) are not being manipulated. But in this case, Aussie prices rose while the Singapore price fell. So it was back to another favourite line:
"If the ACCC wants further monitoring powers, then we will certainly be willing to provide them," he said.
Haven't we heard that line before? [And if the Iraqi government ask us to leave, we will be happy to go, right?] And once again, the ACCC's response is the same:
Mr Samuel said increased power "was entirely a matter for Government to deal with". But the Government said the ball was in Mr Samuel's court.
What a fun game! Fact is, the ACCC does have the powers to do more, but they can only do so at the government's direction (specifically the Treasurer's). But that will only happen when Canberra gets the nod from their Big Oil mates. And everybody knows it.

Here's Costello back in April:
"I have asked them [the ACCC] to continue to monitor sites and let me make it clear - if any service station proprietor wants to collude with anybody else, they're at risk of prosecution and conviction and heavy penalty."
Yeah, let's all take a good look at what a bang-up job the ACCC has done pursuing these bastards:
The ACCC's four-year case against eight Victorian petrol stations ended on a particularly bad note for the consumer watchdog today, when it was dismissed by the Federal Court in Melbourne.

The consumer watchdog had built its case on the argument that during more than 100 telephone conversations between the petrol station owners, they had discussed the size and the timing of petrol price rises.

It was alleged by the ACCC that if one petrol station didn't act on a price increase, then further calls by its fellow operators were made to discuss why it hadn't done so.

But in a 300-page judgement, Federal Court Justice Peter Grey expressed in no uncertain terms his view of the ACCC's case, saying the consumer watchdog had failed badly in its bid to present evidence of price fixing.
That failed ACCC case cost taxpayers millions, and now the oil companies are entitled to seek damages! As ever, ladies and germs, its you and me who are being played for schmucks.

Now let's recall these words from Howard in August last year:
"I mean if anybody says there's some magical solution to the high price of petrol in Australia, will you please ring the Lodge and I'll spend an hour all-ears listening to them."
By the time US mid-term elections came around just three months later, the global oil price had fallen a massive 20 percent. It has been going up pretty steadily ever since. Wall Street and the House of Saud took a temporary hit to keep their boy in the White House, now they are reaping the benefits. So it goes, so it goes. The evidence of Big Oil price manipulation is right before our eyes, in plain sight, for all to see.

What's the Howard government going to do about it? Nothing.

What's Rudd going to do about it? Nothing.

The reason? Big Oil is bigger than Australia. We are a very small fish in this global game. The only solution is to wean ourselves off the oil habit, and develop alternative energy sources.