Contributed by Ben Wilson
Times of crisis bring out the best and worst of people. We are seeing this in the present crisis. There is a growing realisation that we are in this together. All of us have to be in the battle against the Coronavirus. People are shifting to giving a helping hand wherever they can. There are also those few out there to line their own pockets, through scams, scaremongering and outright fraud. They deserve to be called low lives.
We can’t afford turn a blind eye to these low lives. Their actions cause a great deal of harm. So many as going to experience a great deal of hardship and they do not need this on top of it.
The community needs to send out the strong message that this will not be tolerated. Those who behave in this way must be dealt with.
It is not just concern some bad individuals. There are businesses out there, working to take advantage of the situation. They also deserve their just consequences.
Perhaps the worst current offenders are the oil companies. The oil war between Russia and Saudi Arabia has seen the latter flood the global crude market, and this has caused the price to plummet. It has resulted in a similar fall in price for petrol.
This should be reflected at Australian bowsers. Only part of it has. The oil companies have decided to keep a portion of the difference for themselves. This is a practice called price gouging.
Price gouging is possible because these companies have a monopoly and it is not against the law in Australia. Our price is directly linked to the global price. These combined factors give these companies free reign to do what they like, and they are taking advantage of it.
The gap between the wholesale price they pay and what they charge has never been bigger than it is now. It is below $1 a litre and falling. The average price being charged at the bowser is $1. 37. What can justify such a big margin?
It is inexcusable. Petrol is a vital and strategic resource. In the absence of alternatives, people need it to get around. It is much worse when the average person has seen their income plummet and faces a poorer and uncertain future. Australia, and that includes everyone, has a responsibility to do their part to help soften the blow.
Profiteers are dishonouring this vital principle.
The oil companies, which have for years been making record profits out of highly inflated prices, are the worst of this rotten bunch.
Why is this being allowed to continue? Surely there’s a good case to outlaw such bad behaviour?
Australia must demand better. We can all note the worst offenders, shame them by spreading the word, then go and get out petrol somewhere else.