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Content Guy’s Note: Michael Sansolo is in Australia on assignment this week, and filed this report.

COOLANGOTTA, Queensland, Australia - It's rarely a good thing when supermarket companies are featured prominently on the news and debates in the government. But that's what is happening right now in Australia and there is a growing sense that social networking devices like Twitter are playing a strong role in the controversy.

The nation's two largest supermarket chains - Coles and Woolworths - have just begun a special consumer offer: 40 cents off each liter of gasoline for shoppers who spend more than $300 at the stores in one trip sometime over the next three days. (The savings on a fill-up is estimated at about $20. Forty cents Australian is equal to about 32 cents US.) The promotion is the lead story on many newscasts and is now the subject of a government investigation.

Consumer groups are claiming that the two powerful chains are running the promotion to force shoppers into extra spending (to reach $300) and to drive out independent gasoline competitors. Plus, many claim food prices have been inflated to make up for the lost gasoline revenues. Although the government said the promotion is simply a marketing effort, consumer and opposition groups are calling for changes in the way the companies are regulated and the latitude they have to run such promotions.

According to some local IGA retailers, the consumer protests and government action was fueled by heavy activity on Twitter, where shoppers are posting concerns about the promotion. One group was able to use the social networking site to get messages through to governmental officials.
KC's View:
FYI…MNB will have more on the Twitter revolution tomorrow in “Kate’s BlogBeat.”