Barr pumped on petrol prices: now we’re the lowest

Ian Bushnell 19 May 2020 47
Petrol prices

A range of petrol prices around Canberra on Monday, 4 May, after Chief Minister Andrew Barr’s threat of legislation. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr is claiming victory over the fuel price gougers, citing new data showing Canberra has the lowest average petrol price in Australia.

According to the Australian Institute of Petroleum (AIP) Weekly Price report, the weekly unleaded average for the week ending 17 May for the ACT was 101.6 cents per litre.

This was cheaper than all major cities across the country, including Sydney which on average was 12 cents a litre higher.

Late last month Mr Barr threatened retailers with the big stick of legislating to enforce a retail margin if prices did not fall in line with other markets and the wholesale level. It came in an environment of falling demand due to the COVID-19 shutdown and record low crude oil prices.

The Chief Minister has the power to determine the maximum wholesale price, retail price and retail margin of fuel on the recommendation of the fair trading commissioner.

Mr Barr wrote to every major petrol retailer in Canberra demanding an explanation as to why prices had dropped in other major metropolitan cities such as Sydney but not across the ACT.

He gave them until Sunday, 3 May to lower prices or be compelled to lower them.

Prices across the major outlets began falling and Mr Barr has not had to resort to that big stick.

Mr Barr said on Monday (18 May) that the average price result was a milestone for Canberra, ”a claim we never expected we’d be making”.

”Canberra motorists often pay higher prices than motorists in other major cities, and it will be a welcome relief to many local families that the price of petrol in the ACT is as low as possible during this difficult period,” he said.

“The ACT Government will continue challenging local petrol stations to keep their prices at or below the Australian national weekly average.”

Petrol Prices

Metropolitan average prices in Australian capital cities.

Mr Barr also wrote to ACCC Chair Rod Sims requesting that the consumer watchdog investigate petrol prices in the ACT.

“Despite crude oil prices falling to near record lows, and wholesale prices reducing substantially as a result over the last few months, we are not seeing similar outcomes for retail fuel prices in the Territory,” Mr Barr wrote.

“At a time when the economy is being severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and many households are struggling due to job losses and restrictions placed on the community, this outcome is not acceptable.

“Any action taken by the ACCC would help increase pressure on retailers operating in the ACT market to do the right thing and reduce retail prices to a level more commensurate with broader market trends.”

Mr Barr has endured criticism from motorist bodies and the Opposition for not taking measures to dampen fuel prices, including real-time petrol price monitoring, improving business competition, and reducing taxes and charges for operators.

According to the Canberra Liberals, Canberrans pay an average of $450 more for fuel per year than households in NSW.

In February, the government announced a suite of measures to increase competition in the Territory petrol market and ease motorists’ pain at the bowser.

These included plans to establish a petrol price watchdog, attracting more independent operators and potentially extending the FuelCheck price monitoring scheme from NSW.

The government also reached out to independent retailers, saying it will assist them to identify potential sites in the ACT to build new service stations.


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47 Responses to Barr pumped on petrol prices: now we’re the lowest
Yuri Shukost Yuri Shukost 12:46 pm 22 May 20

So, this is good news? The last time I filled up, U98 at Costco (currently closed for expansion) was below $1. My wife bought U91 at 88¢ a litre. Try again, Barr. Only some of the voters are as dumb as you think they are.

Neil Brown Neil Brown 7:32 pm 20 May 20

Keep dreaming!! 😂😂

Robert McMahon Robert McMahon 5:08 pm 20 May 20

One swallow does not a summer make....

Malcolm Campbell Malcolm Campbell 10:29 am 20 May 20

So who or why would you want to go to act just to buy petrol ⛽️

Daniel Trevarthen Daniel Trevarthen 10:33 pm 19 May 20

They didn’t do it before Barr’s “Friday Deadline!” - they waited till Monday...and other states and territories were enjoying the low pricing for many weeks before it fell in ACT region, and that’s only lasted temporarily, as the prices creep up again.

Toothless political stunt. Who knows what the servos received in return...

Deb Meuronen Deb Meuronen 8:48 pm 19 May 20

Gone up by 5c in the last day 😖

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 7:14 pm 19 May 20

Might be time to dust off those adorable “Feel the Power” number-plates – but maybe not use tamper-proof screws to attach them……

Simon Gadgets Simon Gadgets 6:58 pm 19 May 20

Pity he sat on him bum for so long and only chose to do it in an election yeT

Randy Goldberg Randy Goldberg 5:44 pm 19 May 20

Andrew Barr ACT Chief Minister It's interesting how some petrol stations are using their 4 cent discount to achieve the 101.9 price (advertising unleaded e10 at 105.9).

Brydie Kelly Brydie Kelly 4:38 pm 19 May 20

But... they're.... already going back ...up....

Kylie Wylie Kylie Wylie 3:50 pm 19 May 20

Except now that Costco petrol has shut for a month, the price has gone up by at least 6c a litre in 3 days...

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 5:20 pm 19 May 20

    That must explain why last time I got petrol it had gone up to 99 cents.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 5:58 am 20 May 20

    Kylie Wylie except it went up about 20c in Sydney just over a week ago but has come down in Sydney now, but still cheaper here. How do you explain that?

Trace Hawker Trace Hawker 3:23 pm 19 May 20

What a friggen joke. The price has already gone back up.

Harry Sotiropoulos Harry Sotiropoulos 2:42 pm 19 May 20

Lmao, wait till the covid crap ends, let's see the prices then.

Karen Cowan Karen Cowan 1:58 pm 19 May 20

Prices are slowly rising. Won't last long.

Tracey Crump Tracey Crump 1:35 pm 19 May 20

Good outcome....let's see how long it lasts in terms of price parity.

Nick Anderson Nick Anderson 12:20 pm 19 May 20

Despite the possibility of this only being a shallow gesture in an election year, this is a good thing that our chief minister has done.

Long overdue that we hold servos accountable for price gouging. Don’t care if they use ACT’s high median salary per capita as a justification for higher fuel prices. It’s still a dodgy practise.

Jon Billows Jon Billows 11:46 am 19 May 20

Lowest average price. But in cities with competition you could still get it cheaper during the cycle. Adelaide went down to 70c per litre

Stas Idowu Stas Idowu 11:17 am 19 May 20

now that they publicly tell everyone, they'll put the prices back up. Nice work, Riot

Gemi Jeffery Gemi Jeffery 10:49 am 19 May 20

It's about time fuel prices were competitive...I've found it economically feasible to drive to Goulburn to get my car filled.

    Stephen Page-Murray Stephen Page-Murray 11:05 am 19 May 20

    Gemi Jeffery

    Easier and cheaper to fill at Costco

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 12:44 pm 19 May 20

    What are you paying in Goulburn? For the last couple of months I have paid between 86cents and 99cents per litre in Canberra. Can you get much cheaper than that in Goulburn to make a trip to Goulburn for no other reason but to buy petrol, worth it?

    Edgar Sharp Edgar Sharp 10:55 pm 19 May 20

    If your car uses only 6L/100km you're going to be using approx 12L of fuel for that trip. If your car holds 80L, the price would need to be about 18% cheaper to break even on the fuel alone, and all those figures are very conservative, disregard all other running costs and value your time at zero.

    How much have you been buying fuel in Goulburn for?

Sher Young Sher Young 10:38 am 19 May 20

I challenge him to do the same with the RATES!

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 10:48 am 19 May 20

    The issue with Rates is they are high all across the country, it is not an ACT government thing. Why? because everything is so expensive and thats mostly due to federal government policy. The ACT government has to pay the same costs that we all do to get services provided to us all. Also according to the ABS residents of the ACT are paying around the average in state based taxes. So while we like to complain about rates in the ACT, the reality is overall we are still better off, especially with the cheapest electricity also to go with the the great facilities we have here. There would be no other cities of 400,000 people with the facilities we have here.

    Chris Cross Chris Cross 12:54 pm 19 May 20

    Every single other state in the country is WISHING they had the ACT system already implemented. They all rely on 'feast or famine' inefficient stamp duty... and now with massive disruption to the property market Australia wide, that's going to blow state budgets big time. Yet there are STILL people here wishing for lower rates and increased stamp duty. Get used to it folks... its good tax reform that benefits US. Do people not realise where all that money goes? Barr isn't pocketing it himself and going to the casino with it! It's PUBLIC MONEY! Our money to be spent on US. Stop whinging about Rates for goodness sake. It's getting old and it makes you look silly.

    Gregg Heldon Gregg Heldon 1:43 pm 19 May 20

    Of course, we don't own the land our houses are on. The rest of Australia does. So rates aren't really comparable.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 7:00 am 20 May 20

    Gregg Heldon Whilst we don’t own our land legally, for all practical purposes we do. So how do you come up with your conclusion?

    The biggest difference when it comes to rates between areas of the country is we pay a state/territory government not a local government entity.

    Gregg Heldon Gregg Heldon 7:36 am 20 May 20

    Ashley Wright with the first lot of 99 year leases coming up soon, I guess we'll see how practical your conclusion is.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 8:20 am 20 May 20

    Gregg Heldon that’s nothing to do with rates.

    And it has already been announced and published in the Act Gov websites that leases will roll over for an admin fee. The fee isn’t listed but some news articles indicate a fee of around $200 for a residential block.

    Gregg Heldon Gregg Heldon 8:41 am 20 May 20

    Ashley Wright but it will. Because if they just resume one block, then it shows that you're paying for a building and nothing else.

    Just because it's on a website now, doesn't mean it's gospel. After all, how much are the blocks in Reid, Turner, Ainslie, and Kingston worth? I have no doubt that they will sell off the blocks that have Govvie houses on them. And that should make everyone worried.

    I hope I'm wrong though.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 9:26 am 20 May 20

    Gregg Heldon I still fail to see any connection to rates.

    Gregg Heldon Gregg Heldon 9:38 am 20 May 20

    Ashley Wright people in other jurisdictions pay rates for land and services. We don't.

    But until the last few years, our rates were a lot cheaper than, say Queanbeyan. The gap has now narrowed significantly. I've lived in both jurisdictions. Personally, I think Queanbeyan gets better value for money. And one of the reasons, in my opinion, is that they own their block.

    And, in my opinion, and I admit that I could be in a very small minority, that when the 99 year leases start to come up, we'll start to see if other people also question the amount of rates that ACT residents pay compared to other jurisdictions.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 9:42 am 20 May 20

    Gregg Heldon there is a difference in the ACT but that had nothing to do with the land being leasehold but to do with the fact we don’t have councils so rates go to the territory. But the territory still has to provide the same services as a council and the same services as a state.

    Gregg Heldon Gregg Heldon 10:29 am 20 May 20

    Ashley Wright I think you and I are coming at this from a different angle.

    I will tell you though, Queanbeyan offers more as standard than what the ACT does. Recycling bins as standard for a start.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 11:56 am 20 May 20

    Gregg Heldon recycling bins have been “standard” in the ACT for the best part of 20 years!

    Gregg Heldon Gregg Heldon 12:08 pm 20 May 20

    Ashley Wright green recycling sorry. I missed out the word green.

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