In anticipation of businesses ripping off motorists due to the Thursday announcement of the closure of the Caltex Kurnell refinery in New South Wales, the Automobile Association of Australia (AAA) warned of deceptive practices similar to what happened to the carbon tax.
Gas prices are still playing an outsize role in determining consumer confidence
The AAA warned petrol outlets that they were placed on notice after Caltex said it would close by mid-2014 the 57-year-old Kurnell facility due to losses caused by its operation. AAA made the warning amid high price of fuel.
"One of the things that we have to ensure is taken into account is that the major fuel retailers and the other suppliers need to be put on notice that this is not an opportunity to unjustifiably push up margins," The Herald Sun quoted Andrew McKellar of AAA.
"They need to be on notice, they need to be under scrutiny to ensure that they don't use this as an opportunity to manipulate the price cycle ... at the expense of consumers," he added.
However, Australian Workers Union National Secretary Paul Howes said Caltex's decision would definitely affect petrol prices because sweet crude is refined in Singapore which would make it more expensive.
Caltex Managing Director Julian Segal and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson belied fears of petrol price hike due to Caltex's decision. Mr Ferguson said Australia imports large amounts of crude oil and finished petroleum products and the Caltex would still import refined products from Chevron.
"Caltex refineries are relatively small and in their current configuration are disadvantaged when compared to the modern, larger scale, more efficient refineries in the Asian region against which we compete," Mr Segal explained.
He said after the facility closes in mid-2014, less than 100 workers would remain in Kurnell when the plant becomes an imported fuel storage hub. Even jobs at Caltex's remaining Lytton facility in Brisbane are not secure because Mr Segal gave no guarantee for the long-term future for the plant amid an ongoing review on its operation and viability.
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