Tony O'Kane | May 21, 2009

Earlier today, Nationals senate leader Barnaby Joyce and Independent senator Nick Xenophon rolled up their sleeves at a West Sydney fuel station and for one hour helped motorists pump petrol at just 41.8 cents per litre.

Why? To bring attention to their campaign to limit anti-competitive behaviour from Australia's biggest retailers towards independent operators.

The owner of the petrol station involved, Ms Marie El-Khoury, has led a group of independent petrol stations around Sydney in dropping fuel prices as a protest against major petrol retailers.

The big petrol chains have been accused of artificially lowering prices in areas around independent fuel stations, effectively driving the competition out of business. Barnaby Joyce and Nick Xenophon want to put an end to that.

Both senators intend to introduce a private member's Bill that will force big oil companies and supermarket retails to offer lower pricing within a 35km radius of any of their outlets which offer discounted fuel. The aim of the Bill will be to end geographic price discrimination, and hopefully take some of the pressure off small independents like Ms El-Khoury.

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