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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
theberra theberra 4:23 pm 24 Mar 20

Where’s Dutton’s profiteer hit squad when you need them. Too busy chasing down a few idiots hoarding toilet paper than to tackle the real profiteers – multi national owned and run petrol stations.

Barr could setup an ACT Government owned and run petrol which would be able to provide fuel at a considerable discount to the current profiteers saving motorists heaps at the bowser, forcing the multi national servos to come into line with reasonable pricing and making a small profit for the territories consolidated revenue.

Scott Malpass Scott Malpass 4:31 pm 24 Mar 20

Duopolies!!

Richard Willcoxson Richard Willcoxson 4:37 pm 24 Mar 20

Shocked!!! Not

Allister Roger Allister Roger 4:38 pm 24 Mar 20

If everyone went to Costco they would drop prices. It's a lazy tax.

    James Forge James Forge 7:11 pm 24 Mar 20

    Costco charge more than the servo's in Goulburn a lot of the time so they could discount a lot more than they choose to.

    Allister Roger Allister Roger 7:44 pm 24 Mar 20

    James Forge Costco is in the membership selling game not the petrol selling game. They offer that service as a benefit for their members only. But still the cheapest in town for a number of years.

    James Forge James Forge 7:45 pm 24 Mar 20

    Allister Roger I am a member of Costco but only fill up there when I'm in the area. I don't go out of my way and waste fuel to save a couple of dollars.

Stephen Arculus Stephen Arculus 4:38 pm 24 Mar 20

We know exactly why they aren't falling...

Kerry Crampton Kerry Crampton 4:40 pm 24 Mar 20

BP Yass rd Queanbeyan has E10 for around $1.13. Been that price for a few weeks too.

Keith Alderson Keith Alderson 4:40 pm 24 Mar 20

On Sunday diesel was 149.9 in Kambah. Took my wifes car to work yesterday and filled up at costco 118.7. 31 cents a litre difference. Was almost $17 difference filling the tank

Chad Weston Chad Weston 4:44 pm 24 Mar 20

Accc asleep

Vickie Kibblewhite Vickie Kibblewhite 4:47 pm 24 Mar 20

Don't ya just love the price gouging

Greg Batten Greg Batten 4:48 pm 24 Mar 20

Gouging .... pure and simple.

Ed N Joanne Towner Ed N Joanne Towner 4:50 pm 24 Mar 20

Oil companies being oil companies. Their revenue will be down with everyone being restricted as to travellin interstate.

Nell Feneck Nell Feneck 4:51 pm 24 Mar 20

I don’t know about that - I paid $116.7 at Costco on Saturday !!

David Brown David Brown 4:52 pm 24 Mar 20

It is the same old story. There is nothing to encourage them.

Tara Cheyne did a review and decided that the successful Perth system would not work in Canberra. Well I can tell her that her approach, doing nothing, sure as hell is not working.

    Tracy Parker Tracy Parker 5:30 pm 24 Mar 20

    Fuel watch in Perth is a great tool, keeps everything honest , they set the prices the evening before and the price stays that price for 24hrs until the next price is set.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 5:46 pm 24 Mar 20

    David Brown what’s wrong with Petrolspy and the other similar apps? Why does it have to be government run?

    David Brown David Brown 6:51 pm 24 Mar 20

    Tracy Parker I think it is brilliant. Unfortunately the Barr Government does not agree. 😥

Chris Olsen Chris Olsen 4:53 pm 24 Mar 20

Even with our dollar dropping 10c to the US dollar, with the price of oil we should be paying around 90c a litre. Toothless ACCC have no actual power to do anything

Helen Roben Helen Roben 4:55 pm 24 Mar 20

BP Fyshwick, cnr Canberra Av, diesel today $1.23

Peter Gamble Peter Gamble 5:10 pm 24 Mar 20

Diesel 123 at Metro in Fyshwick.

Hans Dimpel Hans Dimpel 5:11 pm 24 Mar 20

Most fossil fuel companies pay no tax in Australia.

David Murn David Murn 5:28 pm 24 Mar 20

Because oil prices are in USD, and even though the price of oil has fallen, the USD has also fallen.

Geoff Bassingthwaighte Geoff Bassingthwaighte 5:32 pm 24 Mar 20

E10 purchased for 112.9 in Shellharbour on Sunday, then further down the road Enhance had it for 105.9. 119.9 in Robertson but still 140 in Canberra. Woolies and Coles please explain.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 5:43 pm 24 Mar 20

    Geoff Bassingthwaighte FYI Wollies and Coles don’t own any servos. So not sure why they need to explain.

    Wollies sold all their sites to a company called EG over a year ago and have nothing to do with them except EG accepts their loyalty card.

    And at Coles/Shell service stations Coles doesn’t set the price. A company called Viva (Basically shell themselves through a few different companies) is responsible for fuel including setting the price and pays a fixed price to Coles for running the site.

Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 5:36 pm 24 Mar 20

Petrolspy shows Sydney prices are wildly different with prices from $1.10 to $1.50 for 91. The vast majority are around the around the $1.40 mark not $1.30 as the article says. Don’t believe me bring it up on a web browser and have a look.

Petrolspy shows Canberra prices as being most $1.39 to $1.41 with a few exceptions both ways.

Cheapest fuel seems to be Goulburn at around $1.30.

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