I am very pleased to report that positive discussions are underway to guarantee a local fuel supply for the people of Lorne.
While nothing is certain, I am very hopeful that another fuel retailer will step in and provide the lifeline that the Lorne community desperately needs.
The Lorne community was shocked to learn that BP Australia was shutting down the Lorne service station on 15 February 2016, providing just four weeks’ notice.
As I said at the time, BP effectively deserted the people of Lorne at the worst possible time – during the height of summer when the risk of bushfire remains high.
In providing the community with so little notice about its decision to walk away from a lease which did not expire until 2019, BP Australia showed a callous disregard for Lorne residents as well as the thousands of tourists who use the Great Ocean Road.
BP has been in a contractual dispute with the owner of the site, Noel Colliver of Melbourne (Hicone PL), over sub-standard petrol tanks and fuel lines which has resulted in the sale of contaminated fuel. This has caused damage to the engines of many local vehicles costing tens of thousands of dollars in repairs.
BP has refused to answer many questions including why it did not warn motorists about the risk of contaminated fuel.
I am advised that another operator is in confidential discussions to take over the Lorne service station from BP, providing issues with the contaminated fuel can be resolved.
As the federal representative of many regional towns across Corangamite, an important part of my job is to stand up and fight when a community is treated poorly. I have taken on Telstra over poor communications, Alcoa over unacceptable sulphur dioxide emissions at its Anglesea power plant and Coles and Woolworths over their unlawful, anti-competitive conduct which has hurt small businesses. And I will continue to hold BP Australia to account for its irresponsible actions.
A local fuel supply for Lorne is critical and I will continue to keep Corangamite residents informed of any further developments.
29 January 2016