Look, oil prices are the lowest they’ve been since Jesus played fullback for Bethlehem United in the Judea league. In fact, they are so low, at one stage this week the price was minus $42 a barrel meaning that if you were selling a few barrels you’d have to pay the customers $42 to take them.
About a month ago radio commentator Alan Jones raised the problem of petrol prices with ACCC supremo, Rocket Rod Sims. Al pointed out to Rock that on one side of a busy Sydney road you had a servo selling oil at 117c and across the street the same brand servo was charging 187c. Both agreed it was profiteering and price-gouging but as Rock told Al, the ACCC doesn’t have price-control powers. There was only one solution: “Call it out and put pressure on the gougers.”
A few days ago, Rock was talking to Al again and said: “You certainly can’t complain about average prices. In Sydney 93, Brisbane 92.”
Well that’s not quite right.
State government apps show that across this quiet wide country of ours yesterday you could buy unleaded 91 for 73c a litre or you could help support a servo owner on Struggle Street and pay $1.58.
So, clearly, name and shame isn’t working. But it is helping the feds in this time of need because 51 per cent of the gas price is tax. It would be appalling to say they have a vested interest in keeping prices high, so I won’t say that.
Now I know it’s a bit rich for a Porsche and Holden V8-driving socialist to point out the price of petrol is a tax on the poor and rural and regional dwellers, but it is. It’s fine to build fancy roads in cities but the same point applies. Freeways are actually cost-ways where the tolls subtly rise with the CPI and weirdly enough you need petrol in your car to drive on them. Last time I looked, most Australians on fixed income had their income fixed meaning their pay didn’t go up with the CPI or price-gouging servo owners. In equally depressing news, everything petrol heads love is being cancelled.
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance organisers have thrown in the polishing cloth and waved a fond farewell to this August’s rich persons with seriously expensive cars, shine and show (we’ve thrown in a pic of the 2017 winner). You’d have to bet that the Les 24 Heures du Mans won’t happen, nor the rest of F1, nor Supercars, nor in-person classic car auctions. But just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, I got a call yesterday from Markus Söder, Bavaria’s Prime Minister. “We’re cancelling this year’s Oktoberfest. I know the FT described it as ‘a head-spinning brew of beer, brass bands, greasy chicken, lederhosen, dirndl dresses, fairground rides and thigh-slapping revelry’ and Tom Mann (the multifaceted author with a prolific output of fiction and novels, the son of a merchant, he was expected to take over the family’s grain firm in Lubeck until his Dad caught him sneaking off to the Kensi in the early 50s to have a sly one or two with the Sultan. In fact, his best seller, Dr Faustus, the story of an artist who chooses to pay with self-destruction for the powers of genius, was heavily based on the conversations he had with Mick over a Coopers Sparkling) said it was a monster funfair but fair crack of the whip Johan, we stopped brass music after 6pm, moved it to September and were thinking of changing the name to Wiesn (meadows) in knowing reference to its bucolic roots. Now no schoolboy humour there Johan. But matey, it brought in six million tourists a year, mostly from Australia, and poured a couple of bill into the till. Do you think your mate Tim Cooper could help out?”
Readers and dear friends, including Dave Horrocks, who has the best Stirling Moss story involving a dual-sexed entry in the Monte Carlo rally, a Sunbeam Alpine and a cross dresser but which isn’t suitable for Australia’s greatest newspaper but would fit quite nicely in an edition of Britain’s Sunday Sport, the former prince Harry’s favourite news source and home of world exclusives like a London bus being discovered at the Antarctic, a WWII Bomber on the moon and a statue of Elvis Presley on Mars, you know you can always count on Dr Tim.
In an exclusive interview, much like the Sunday Sun’s in-depth chat last month with Elvis’s grandfather, Dr Tim told me: “When the Oktoberfest shut their doors, we all felt it. But fear no more, we’re opening the doors of the virtual Oktoberfest experience! Sit back and crack open a Coopers as we bring the head-spinning brew of beer, brass bands, greasy chicken, lederhosen, dirndl dresses, fairground rides and thigh-slapping revelry to your lounge room. Unfortunately for your 13.5 readers John it was beamed live on the Facebook pages of pubs across Australia last night but I am told that your associates at Foxtel and Kayo are negotiating the rights to the every match, live and advertising free, of the 2020 Belarus Rugby League season where Aussie local Wayne Vickery is the coach.”
Talking of international affairs there has been a strong protest from the Scottish business community temporarily residing here while they wait for independence at home. Hamish MacGriogalach, chair of the Scots for a Better Australia, rang me to complain about my assertion that Stirling Moss was the best driver the world had ever seen. Now I actually don’t know what Ham said because of his accent but he did mention Jim Clark. And there is no doubt Jimbo was the greatest driver ever to come out of Caledonia.
As Jim used to say: The difference between a Scots person and a canoe? A canoe tips occasionally.