Fuel protests hit second Australian state

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Fuel protests hit second Australian state

Truck blockades of Australian fuel depots have spread to a second state as anger at rising oil prices intensifies.

On Sunday, truck drivers set up blockades at three fuel depots in the city of Melbourne in Victoria and on Tuesday, the first blockade appeared in Queensland state, at a BP refinery near Brisbane airport.

Transport Workers Union federal president Hughie Williams warns that such protests could spread across the country.

He commented: "Drivers are taking spontaneous action because they cannot cope with what's going on within the transport industry any longer."

Mr Williams is urging truck drivers not to take any action that could affect the Sydney Olympics, which end on Sunday.

He said: "I think we can tough it out for all this week, and hopefully the Olympics can continue on without any difficulty."

Unleaded petrol has recently topped AU$1 per litre in many parts of the continent - a rise of some 10% in recent weeks.

Truck drivers are demanding higher freight rates, a national investigation into petrol pricing and a cut in fuel excise.

Prime Minister John Howard says he will not bow to the blockades, a move which has been condemned by Mr Williams, who said: "I think the prime minister is being very, very negative on this particular matter because we have a major national problem here in Australia, and we have the prime minister just saying we can't do anything about it."

Oil companies have warned that supplies in Victoria, which is served by the Melbourne depots, are running short. The state's main motoring body is urging drivers not to engage in panic-buying.

Last updated: 04:31 Tuesday 26th September 2000.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 25, 2000

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