Middlemount Caltex under fire
WATCHDOG scrutiny of a service station at Middlemount is the last resort to stop excessive fuel prices, says Jim Pearce.
The Mirani Labor candidate yesterday said the Middlemount Caltex fuel station had for some time set prices at more than 20 cents higher than any nearby town and he called for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to step in and investigate why.
He said no tier of government had been able to justify the station's high charges, and the cost continued to be a real concern for locals and people who travelled through the area for work.
Mr Pearce said he was approached by many people who raised the issue when he visited Middlemount last week.
He said people on good wages were not happy and were travelling to Tieri or Dysart to fuel up, but those on lower incomes couldn't afford to travel to other towns, so were left purchasing just enough fuel at Middlemount to get to their destination.
Caltex is the town's only fuel station, with the nearest about 60km away in Tieri.
Yesterday The Morning Bulletin was told by staff at both the Middlemount and Tieri Caltex stations that workers were not allowed to state the price of fuel over the phone.
Mr Pearce said there was good reason for the ACCC petrol commissioner to take a look at the business model in Middlemount and pinpoint the reason why the station had to set such high prices.
"I do not believe the managers of Middlemount Caltex are deliberately setting the high price for the purpose of making a profit.
"I believe it has more to do with contract arrangements, the cost of running the business, and the need to recoup those costs," he said.
The Caltex Middlemount manager was unavailable yesterday, but manager Steven Downes had previously stated the price was a result of high overhead and excessive freight costs which he had no control over.
He said the rent for the station was more than double what was paid at other sites.
Average cost of unleaded fuel in the region on Saturday:
Source: RACQ Regional Fuel Prices