Time for a better fuel deal
Government takes high price concerns to consumer watchdog
RISING public anger at fuel prices in Hobart has prompted the State Government to ask the nation’s consumer watchdog to investigate.
Resources Minister Sarah Courtney has called the high prices unacceptable and wants a probe into why there is a considerable gap between the unleaded wholesale price and what motorists are paying at the bowser.
According to fuel-watch platform MotorMouth, the recent average price for unleaded in Hobart was 159.1c a litre – which is the highest capital city price in the country and 36.5c a litre above the wholesale price.
THE Tasmanian Government is taking action on the issue of the state’s petrol prices, which have remained high despite dramatic falls in the global wholesale price of fuel.
Resources Minister Sarah Courtney said yesterday the high prices were unacceptable and the Government would take the matter to the nation’s consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
“It is totally unacceptable if Tasmanians are being gouged at the petrol pump by the major oil companies and fuel retailers,” Ms Courtney said.
“The Government will be bringing this to the ACCC’s attention as it is unacceptable that reductions in the wholesale fuel price are not passed on to local consumers.”
One of the country’s leading economists also urged the Tasmanian Government to ask questions of oil companies and petrol retailers to determine why falls in the global fuel price have not flowed through to the state’s bowsers.
CommSec chief economist Craig James said the wholesale price of fuel had been falling for two months, but Hobart had not experienced the benefits.
“Prices in Hobart are significantly higher than other parts of the country, and way ahead of the wholesale price [122.6c a litre],” he said.
According to CommSec’s fuel-watch platform MotorMouth, the average price for unleaded in Hobart is 159.1c a litre, which is the highest in the country and 36.5c above the wholesale price.
Mr James said Tasmania’s extra distance did warrant about an extra five cents a litre more than other capitals, but not the 30-plus cents motorists were paying.
He said questions needed to be asked about why Hobart is so far ahead of the other capitals – with Sydney’s average price for unleaded petrol at 122.8c, Melbourne 125c, Adelaide 121.7c, Perth 137.7c and Brisbane 130.6c.
RACT general manager Darren Moody slammed the gap between the wholesale price and retail prices in Tasmania. “It defies logic and seems to be driven by a lack of competition and profit gouging,” he said.
The wholesale price of fuel is expected to continue to slide, and the RACT forecasts it could get below 120c soon.
Ms Courtney urged Tasmanians to use the GasBuddy App and other price comparison mechanisms to ensure they are buying the cheapest fuel, which would help put downward pressure on prices.