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Fuel retailer warns of cost-of-living ‘trade-offs’

The cost of living inquiry chaired by Liberal senator Jane Hume is hearing from the RBA and Woolies.

The cost of living inquiry chaired by Liberal senator Jane Hume is hearing from the RBA and Woolies. Photo: AAP

Petrol retailer Ampol says government regulations ultimately drive up costs for consumers as an inquiry puts a spotlight on growing cost-of-living pressures.

Ampol government affairs head Todd Loydell pointed to the financial burden imposed on its fuels business by measures such as upgrades to fuel standards and strengthening of the safeguard mechanism.

He said the costs associated with meeting these policy priorities and investing in the solutions would ultimately be paid for by consumers.

“So you can see there are trade-offs to be made between the cost of living, fuel security and the energy transition,” Mr Loydell said in an opening statement to the Senate inquiry.

“We remain open to working with policymakers across government as you weigh these priorities.”

Representatives of mining giant Glencore reminded parliamentarians of the benefits of the elevated corporate tax and royalty revenue landing in government coffers.

Strong commodity prices have fed into higher tax and royalty contributions, which the mining giant says helps fund schools, hospitals and critical infrastructure.

Glencore Australia corporate affairs specialist Cassandra McCarthy said the best way the resources industry could help ease cost-of-living pressures was by employing people and contributing more to government coffers.

“According to the Minerals Council of Australia, over the last decade, mining companies have contributed $142.6 billion in company tax and $112 billion in royalties,” Ms McCarthy said.

“This is equivalent to funding Australia’s entire aged-care system for over eight years.”

The Senate committee on the cost of living will also hear from the Reserve Bank, Woolworths and welfare groups on Wednesday.

The committee was set up last year to investigate cost-of-living pressures and consider options to ease pressure on households.

In a submission to the inquiry, the Food Bank said rising living costs were driving increased demand for food relief and impacting supply.

“Food relief is not immune to inflationary pressures, with the cost of sourcing, transporting and storing food and grocery items increasing dramatically in recent months, significantly increasing the ‘cost of doing business’,” the submission found.

Fast-rising inflation has been crushing household budgets, with consumer prices lifting at an annual rate of 7.8 per cent in the December quarter.

Liberal senator and committee chair Jane Hume said the cost of living was the top issue for Australians.

“Prior to the election, Labor said they had the answers. It seems to be getting worse, it’s the worst inflation figure we have seen since 1990,” she told Seven’s Sunrise program.

“At the beginning of the year, with people going back to work and school, Australians are feeling the pinch of the grocery take-out, petrol browsers, paying their bills and mortgages.”

But Senator Hume denied that the committee would be used as a witch-hunt against the government.

“We will consult with industry, individuals, groups, and find practical, implementable solutions to the cost-of-living crisis.”

– AAP

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