COMPETITION is vital in business.
It provides consumers with choice, it forces a market to be more competitive in price and services or products, and it can hold industries to account.
Origin and Red Energy are both considering entering the Wimmera Grampians gas market in a move that could break EnergyAustralia's ongoing monopoly.
The two companies are negotiating with EnergyAustralia, which has been the only provider in the region since the gas market was privatised in the 1990s.
Gas Pipelines Victoria has an exclusive agreement with EnergyAustralia for the 182-kilometre Carisbrook to Horsham pipeline. It has meant any company entering the market must negotiate with, what would become, their competitor.
Meanwhile, petrol prices also remain a concern for residents across the Wimmera.
The Mail-Times receives very regular requests from readers to launch inquiries into why the price at Horsham bowsers is so high, compared with other centres. The response from the officials is always the same - freight costs and lack of competition.
The average price for unleaded fuel in Horsham in the past year was 147 centres a litre - but that price has ranged between a high of 159 and low of 138 cents a litre in that time.
Residents and visitors to Horsham will have 11 petrol outlets to choose from when the latest outlet opens in Golf Course Road. It will offer diesel, 24 hours, to cars and B-double trucks.
Of course, business have their own costs at the end of the day.
If consumers were seeking to purchase, say, luxury items but the price was too high, they would naturally walk away and try somewhere else. But when it's a business that provides a service people can't live without, where's the line?
The cost of living is steadily increasing and when there's big companies involved - particularly companies that might stand alone in offering a service - they can largely charge what they choose to consumers.
But our wages aren't necessarily keeping up with the rise in living costs.
This leads to unfortunate circumstances, such as people not using their heating or cooling as they fear the cost of their next bill.
More competition won't eliminate those fears altogether - but it could alleviate some of the pain right across the community.
Jessica Grimble, editor