National fuel strike kicks off as motorists make stand against price gouging

UP TO 167,000 Australians are planning to shun petrol stations for the next two days to protest record-breaking petrol costs.

A TWO-DAY boycott of fuel in response to record petrol prices has kicked off, with tens of thousands of Aussies taking part.

Organised by Sydney woman Sabrina Lamont, the protest will see scores of frustrated motorists shun service stations across the country today and tomorrow in a bid to send a clear message to the government and the fuel industry.

So far, 90,000 people have committed to the cause on Facebook, with a further 77,000 people declaring themselves “interested”.

“It’s time to rise up against the petroleum industry and make a stand. On the 26th of October let’s join together in an Australian wide fuel strike,” the event page explains.

“The loss of the fuel plus the added sales of drinks, chocolates etc should be enough to send a shock to the industry.

“We’ve listened to your voices and we agree that a 1 day strike could use a little more oomph! And with 90k of us interested we’re proposing you boycott fuel for the entire weekend.”

The page also urgers drivers to boycott selected companies as well as take part in rallies and longer strikes.

Ms Lamont is also petitioning the government to remove the GST on fuel and to launch a Royal Commission into fuel prices and price gouging, already attracting tens of thousands of signatures.

The strike and petition are in response to record fuel prices across the country, with the cost of petrol hitting a 10-year high in some parts of the country off the back of higher global oil prices and a weaker Australian dollar, with motorists in some cities paying up to $1.65 per litre.

“A fair price should be a $1.15 if you do the calculation on a barrel price and compare the dollar price, and then take away the excise and GST. That is roughly what the price should be at,” Ms Lamont told the ABC this week.

“They are breaking the country’s back with this. We are asking the whole nation not to enter a service station, a total boycott, whether independents or a major brand. Just do not buy fuel.”

But earlier this week, Mark McKenzie, chief executive of service station peak body the Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association (ACAPMA), told punishing local retailers wasn’t going to fix the wider problem.

He said fuel retailers only added about 8-10 per cent of the final price, with the big driver of recent increases being a 44 per cent increase in global oil prices since June last year and a 10 per cent drop in the Aussie dollar.

And NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury said the protest was unlikely to have any impact.

Mr Khoury said even if all 160,000 people chose not to fill up, “that’s not even a rounding error in terms of the overall size of the industry”.

“We completely understand the public’s frustration,” he said.

Earlier this month, an analysis from CommSec, which used data from the Australian Institute of Petroleum, revealed prices had now soared to their highest in four years — and that we should “get used to” paying up to $1.70 per litre.

The last time we saw prices this severe was January 5, 2014 — and according to a slew of experts, things could get even worse before prices ease.


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