With OPEC announcing that they would stabilise production so as to increase the price of oil and with the Christmas holiday season just around the corner you can be sure that the already inflated price Canberrans pay for fuel is set to rise.
For years Canberrans have been slugged inflated prices for fuel compared to other capital cities and even in surrounding country towns. When the price of crude goes up retailers often immediately raise their prices (usually to identical levels on the same day) despite the fact that the increased price on crude from Singapore takes some time to flow through. Conversely, if and when prices should go down (eg when glut occurs or AUD rises), the price at the pump seems to take an inordinate amount of time to shift.
There are many reasons given for fluctuations in the pump price and although some are believable many are not. Canberrans are always told that there is a price cycle – years ago it could be best to fill up early in the week and/or definitely before public service payday. Nowadays prices stick at the same level for weeks.
Retailer margins are also a factor. Canberra apparently has some of the highest in the country.
Another excuse is the level of competition in Canberra. In a recent Canberra Times article Caltex spokesman Sam Collyer said Canberra ‘was a small market and petrol retailers were bound by different pressures to counterparts in other city locations’. Cost of transport was also thrown in as a factor.
Interestingly, on a recent trip to Grenfell and Cowra, both with a small number of petrol stations, the price of unleaded petrol was around 114.9c/l compared to 129.9c/l at most Canberra outlets. Apparently at the moment garages there can survive selling petrol at considerably lower prices. Perhaps they are going broke.
At one time Canberra had a highly paid Petrol Price Commissioner who was supposedly there to monitor and regulate (if possible) petrol prices in the city. I cannot find any current reference to that position which from memory was ineffective. Perhaps being a public service city where the rest of the Australian population believe the bureaucrats are grossly overpaid, it has been seen as OK for petrol companies to charge inflated prices here.
Whatever the reasons Canberra motorists can expect to be slugged higher prices (the word ‘gouging’ comes to mind) in coming months.
Why do we put up with this situation?