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Little relief at the bowser for Canberra motorists despite oil slump

Ian Bushnell 23 March 2020 77
Weston Caltex

The price board at Weston Caltex on Monday morning (23 March). Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Despite world oil prices plummeting in recent weeks, Canberrans are still paying through the nose at the bowser.

At Weston, unleaded regular petrol remained stubbornly high at 141.9 cents a litre on Monday (23 March), three cents above the Canberra average and 20 cents above the lowest price at independent trader Metro at Fyshwick.

NRMA managing director Peter Khoury said that in Canberra’s uncompetitive market the average price had only fallen four cents in the last couple of weeks, still not enough to reflect the slump in crude, and he accused oil companies of making hay while the sun shone despite the economic pain inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“What we are seeing across the country, probably with the exception of Adelaide, is oil companies using this as an opportunity to maintain their profit levels by not passing on the significant falls in oil prices,” he said.

Even taking into account the fall in the Australian dollar, the price was way too high.

”It’s way too high in Canberra,” Mr Khoury said.

Some sites in Sydney were selling unleaded petrol (ULP) at a dollar a litre or less, with the cheapest at 96 cents a litre, but the average price remained in the mid-$1.30s.

The consumer watchdog, the ACCC, said last week that it was monitoring the situation, and would name and shame companies not passing on the oil price falls.

“We will be looking at the market very closely to determine if further sustained reductions in international prices are being passed onto consumers, and we will be publicly identifying those retailers that are not passing on reductions,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“The ACCC cannot control the petrol prices companies set but we can call out problematic price setting which can influence company behaviour.

“At this time the Australian economy needs all the assistance it can get, and lower world oil prices are one of the few positives from current world events.”

But Mr Khoury said that beyond naming and shaming there was little else that could be done.

He said real-time data through petrol price comparison apps and websites allowed motorists to easily find the cheapest fuel, and encouraged a more competitive market.

He welcomed moves in the ACT to adopt it but said the Barr Government might rue delaying its introduction.

”It probably would be quite useful this week to have that technology and legislation installed,” he said.

Mr Khoury called on the oil companies to be good corporate citizens and cut their profit margins.

“Oil prices have been falling consistently now for weeks, those falls have not been adequately passed on, and that is reflected in Canberra. To be behaving like this in this environment when families are worried and people are concerned about their jobs, and we’ve heard today thousands of Australians are losing their jobs, even for the oil companies is quite remarkable,” he said.

”We’re not asking them to lose money. We know what the wholesale price is – it’s very low. What we’re saying is the people you rely on to come into your stores are struggling, they’re suffering. Right now they should be getting relief at the bowser and they are not.”


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77 Responses to Little relief at the bowser for Canberra motorists despite oil slump
Chris Twigg Chris Twigg 3:47 pm 28 Mar 20

Loftie, I bet you're not going to miss the good old 'Canberra' tax.

"The ACCC does not set fuel prices. Fuel prices are determined by the market. Our primary role is to prevent anti-competitive conduct, such as price fixing or collusion, to protect consumers. To this end, we monitor fuel prices in all capital cities and around 190 regional locations. We provide weekly information on recent unleaded petrol prices in the five largest cities."

If the #ACCC can't see collusion in ACT they must be either involved, or just completely inept. Spend 5 mins reading through these comments you can see the completely disparate prices for petrol. Amazingly a lot of regional and remote areas selling petrol significantly cheaper than the Canberra suburbs.

Peter Ongley Peter Ongley 8:50 am 27 Mar 20

In 2019 the ACT government set up an enquire into fuel prices and asked for recommendations on how to achieve lower prices. A final report was produced and presented to the government with several very good recommendations. The government received that report and issued a response that accepted all the recommendations “in principle.” However, that appears to be code for “we aren’t going to do anything about these recommendations but thanks for your ideas.” At now they can say they did go through the process. Too bad they have no intention to fulfil their promise to put downward pressure on the price gougers. https://www.parliament.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/1481198/Fuel-Pricing-Select-Committee-Report-Government-Response-tabled-11-February-2020.pdf

Garry Wonnocott Garry Wonnocott 8:19 am 26 Mar 20

95.9 in Windale today.

Hiren Desai Hiren Desai 7:33 am 26 Mar 20

Queanbeyan ww has $114

Hiren Desai Hiren Desai 7:32 am 26 Mar 20

Fyshwick ww has $114

Loftie Croftie Loftie Croftie 11:58 pm 25 Mar 20

It was $1.15 for diesel in Ceduna in the middle of know where. Canberra prices are disgusting

Bret Sutherland Bret Sutherland 7:43 pm 25 Mar 20

It dropped considerably here in NZ over the last couple of weeks.

Lee McDowall Lee McDowall 5:56 pm 25 Mar 20

Try Costco $1.08 this morning

Pat Andrews Pat Andrews 2:51 pm 25 Mar 20

Yarrawonga was $1.40 yesterday

Yuri Shukost Yuri Shukost 1:09 pm 25 Mar 20

Well, this self isolation business will mean less car use. That'll teach them.

Steve Jones Steve Jones 10:56 am 25 Mar 20

So what’s the Aussie $$ compared to the US?? That doesn’t help either

Kerri Hallas Kerri Hallas 9:39 am 25 Mar 20

Hume dropped vortex 95 by 10 cents litre... Bp Fychwick has deisel 30 cents cheaper... 🤔

Christian Greten Christian Greten 8:37 am 25 Mar 20

BP Kingston $1.34, BP Fyshwick $1.14, Metro Fyshwick $1.08 - go figure.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 9:48 am 25 Mar 20

    Christian Greten metro Mitchel $1.369 for U91 and oddly $1.399 for E10. (Might be a price update lag in the app)

Darron Marks Darron Marks 7:58 am 25 Mar 20

There is no question that given the current economic situation not passing on reductions is fuel prices is a criminal act.

All gloves should come off in forcing an immediate reduction in prices but we need ministers to demanding they drop prices or regulation should follow.

Steve Barrett Steve Barrett 5:28 am 25 Mar 20

121.7 per litre for vanilla unleaded at Caltex, Canberra Airport (near Bunnings). Woolies discount voucher brought it down to 117.7 and there was the potential to go to 113.7 if I had indulged in a minimum of $5 panic buying in-store.

The smug feeling as I drove past the queues at Costco was free.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 9:45 am 25 Mar 20

    Steve Barrett it’s not really that smug because if Costco wasn’t there that servo would have the more usual price.

    Steve Barrett Steve Barrett 11:39 am 25 Mar 20

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m eternally grateful for the Costco presence and it’s effect on pricing. However, some people queue there for over half an hour (at busy times) with their engines runnings to save a couple of cents off per litre compared to Woolworths.

    That just doesn’t make any sense to me.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 3:50 pm 25 Mar 20

    Steve Barrett agree. But if they didn’t do that then Caltex price would be higher.

Craig McPherson Craig McPherson 9:52 pm 24 Mar 20

ACCC will name and shame...

Big deal!

The ACT Government held an enquiry - it came in with bluster and bravado promising to bring oil companies to heel.

It's since fizzled into the mist, outcomes unknown and failing to call BS on the excuses given - transport cost to Canberra somehow exceed rural towns further from Sydney...

Name and shame says the ACCC - yeah, that will make them blink... moronic!

    Jon Hawkins Jon Hawkins 10:47 am 25 Mar 20

    Craig McPherson 20 cents a litre cheaper at Majura.

Kathy Schneider Kathy Schneider 8:59 pm 24 Mar 20

Same in Sydney. Gouging!

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 9:50 am 25 Mar 20

    Kathy Schneider finally someone pointing out the obvious. It’s not just a a Canberra thing. But any discussion of fuel prices always turns into poor Canberra. We generally do pay the same/similar average price as sydney what we lack though are the extreme lows (Costco and Caltex Majura Park aside) and the extreme highs that Sydney sees.

Phil Andrews Phil Andrews 8:56 pm 24 Mar 20

Bring back Fuel Watch

Malcolm Campbell Malcolm Campbell 8:55 pm 24 Mar 20

Royal commission ASAP. Crude oil is half price so why isn’t petrol ⛽️ at the servo half price?????!

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 9:51 am 25 Mar 20

    Malcolm Campbell seeing as fuel taxes are fixed and make up a large portion of prices a halving of oil won’t see a halving or bowser price. But there should be a significant drop though.

    Stephen Rowe Stephen Rowe 11:13 am 25 Mar 20

    as i guess ashley says, the price of crude oil is only one of many factors on the bowser price. weakness of the AUD presumably significant too

Shaun Hoy Shaun Hoy 7:50 pm 24 Mar 20

Today, Diesel $1.24 at Woolies Majura Park, $1.53 at Calwell Caltex.

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