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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
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.

James Forge James Forge 7:16 pm 24 Mar 20

Less and less people are driving to work every day. Supply and demand will push the prices down soon enough.

    Graeme Tyers Graeme Tyers 7:30 pm 24 Mar 20

    Doubt it. The BP on Yass Rd has been 20c a litre cheaper than every other servo for weeks, and no other servo has even tried to price match.

    James Forge James Forge 7:32 pm 24 Mar 20

    Graeme Tyers Paid $1.22 at the airport Caltex on Sunday. Only hours after paying over $0.20 more at the Weston Caltex.

    Graeme Tyers Graeme Tyers 7:34 pm 24 Mar 20

    116.9 at BP, has been for a while.

Anth Ethan Mills Anth Ethan Mills 7:01 pm 24 Mar 20

$1.15 for unleaded in Qbn.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 7:16 pm 24 Mar 20

    Anth Ethan Mills what you really mean is $1.15 at ONE QBN servo.

    And that’s the thing. There are cheap places, there are expensive places but seems most places in Sydney and Canberra the average is high $1.30’s.

    PS BP Fyshwick is the same price. So we can say it’s cheap in Canberra too.

Anthony Pickrell Anthony Pickrell 6:51 pm 24 Mar 20

Shop around

Martin Kilpatrick Martin Kilpatrick 6:40 pm 24 Mar 20

Costco is looking Ok.

Andrew Mills Andrew Mills 6:38 pm 24 Mar 20

Where are you now Andrew DH Barr?

    Greg Frewin Greg Frewin 6:43 pm 24 Mar 20

    Andrew Mills he wouldn’t own a car, on his gay tram !

Richard Parker Richard Parker 6:36 pm 24 Mar 20

The oil companies have us burghers of Canberra over a barrel, with our pants round our ankles, and they're having their way with us. We're so inured to the experience that we hardly raise a whimper in protest. Thank the lord that we have the ACCC and other such august bodies rooting for us!

Darren Baker Darren Baker 6:35 pm 24 Mar 20

I buy 98 for a $1.34.9 ltr

Russell Williams Russell Williams 6:24 pm 24 Mar 20

I filled up at Tuggerah.. ( central coast ) on my way home. 92.9 cents for unleaded. $1.46.9 cents for premium. Prices as low as 114.9 and as high as 1.55.9 from Brisbane to Canberra. I heard on the radio 99.9 cents for unleaded in some places in VIC. Advice if you're travelling. DON'T BUY ON THE MOTORWAY STATIONS ! Go into the towns

Rob Ryan Rob Ryan 6:22 pm 24 Mar 20

97.9 in suburban Adelaide and still falling.

Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 6:22 pm 24 Mar 20

I barely drive now. That's a big saving.

Clinton Berry Clinton Berry 6:16 pm 24 Mar 20

How about people don’t buy fuel for a few days? That will sit them out! It’s the perfect time right now, you really don’t need to drive anywhere anyway

John Boland John Boland 6:07 pm 24 Mar 20

Good to see and Barr and Company are doing something about this... oh wait......! I've already devised the response at the press conference when this gets brought up! "We are looking to ensure there is continued competitive market forces through a range of measures such as prioritising new schemes for independents to ensure the market remains competitive" and "we encourage canberrans to vote with their feet and shop around to find the best deal for them" !! 🤣

    Clinton Berry Clinton Berry 6:18 pm 24 Mar 20

    John Boland that’s exactly what people need to do, boycotting the local and driving a little farther for cheaper fuel sends a big message! It’s the petrol stations setting the price, not the government!

    Elizabeth Ann Thurbon Elizabeth Ann Thurbon 7:36 am 25 Mar 20

    John Boland be grateful for one thing - the ACT government is doing far more to protect ACT citizens safer from the virus than other jurisdictions

    Andrea Lloyd Andrea Lloyd 8:44 am 25 Mar 20

    John Boland you live in Sydney. Why are you worried by what happens here?

Sue Skinner Sue Skinner 5:57 pm 24 Mar 20

Caltex nr binn8ngs majuura park had 95 for $1.24

Michael Ahern Michael Ahern 5:42 pm 24 Mar 20

Good to see the oil companies doing their bit for Australians during the worst economic crisis in living memory...🙄

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