Sabrina Lamont, a grandmother and retired music teacher from Bundaberg, has called for a national fuel strike to protest against rising prices. And, already, thousands of Australians have answered her call.
Last Wednesday, she used Facebook to launch her ‘national fuel strike’ for Friday, October 26. So far, more than 40,000 people have committed to the event. On this day, they say, they will boycott bowsers by refusing to buy any petrol.
“We will do this every month until we are listened to and prices come down and stay that way,” Ms Lamont told News Regional Media.
Giving up teaching
Ms Lamont says high petrol prices forced her to give up the job she loved about a year ago.
She was teaching music in the outback to isolated children. But she could no longer afford to buy petrol to travel the necessary 500km a week. So she says she had no choice but to quit.
But she says she’s far from alone. “It’s sad to see so many people hurting,” she said. “I sometimes sit here and cry at night thinking about the suffering. I can be an emotional person.”
Ms Lamont is also calling for action, however. She’s asking the federal government to remove the excise and taxes that account for more than 30 per cent of the cost of petrol.
“The government must reduce tax on fuel,” she said. “It’s theft and greed.”
Buy smarter, says RACQ
The Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) says it sympathises with motorists and understands their exasperation. But it also suggests motorists can help themselves by being smarter in their fuel-buying behaviour.
“It’s completely understandable that drivers are frustrated by the high fuel prices we’ve seen in recent months,” RACQ spokesperson Lucinda Ross said.
“And while one-off stunts like this may give motorists a feeling of empowerment, unfortunately they’re unlikely to make a difference in the long-term.
“We see many motorists continuing to buy from the most convenient site, often just because it’s on the way home from work. But these servos could be the ones charging the highest prices.
“If you’re in the south east (of Queensland), the best thing you can do to drive down prices is to avoid buying fuel at the top of the cycle.
“Regardless of where you are across the state, do your research. Only ever buy from the cheapest servo in your area.”
‘Together we stand’
But Ms Lamont says she’s determined to pressure politicians into bringing about change.
“I’m hoping the government will listen, or be removed,” she said. “And someone will bring down taxes for basic living necessities like fuel. The minute we lose hope (as a community), we’re finished.
“Together we stand, divided we fall. That’s the message I’m trying to embed in people’s hearts and minds.”