Fuel discounts of 45 cents to 'wipe out' little guys

SMALL service stations and Independent senator Nick Xenophon have called on the federal government to ban fuel discount shopper dockets until an investigation into dockets is completed.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is currently investigating major retailers' use of shopper dockets to offer consumers cheaper fuel at their service stations.

Commission chairman Rod Sims said last July the practice might have a negative effect of the petrol industry and "over time, higher prices could be the result".

The docket system has been criticised for driving people away from independent grocer and fuel suppliers and pushing consumers towards the savings of the major supermarket chains.

Senator Xenophon said the discounts offered could range up to 45 cents a litre, which he said was "a way of using market power to force smaller retailers out".

"You might save five dollars at the petrol bowser, but you're probably paying another ten dollars out of your pocket in the supermarket to pay for it," he said.

Motor Trades Association chief executive Richard Dudley said it might be too late for smaller outlets which could not compete with big retailers' savings unless a ban on the shopper dockets was imposed.

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