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Petrol prices drop but Chief Minister wants more pressure on service stations

Lachlan Roberts 29 July 2019 19

In 2018 the monthly average petrol prices in Canberra were consistently higher than the five largest capital cities. Photo: Lachlan Roberts.

A new report has found petrol prices have dropped in the ACT but Chief Minister Andrew Barr has vowed to keep the pressure on major petrol retailers to keep petrol prices in check.

The average monthly retail petrol price in the ACT has reduced to be almost in-line with Sydney, the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) report has revealed.

The report showed that petrol prices in the ACT have been consistently higher than in Sydney over the past seven years, with Canberra’s monthly average price around 8.4 cents per litre higher.

The difference between Sydney prices and Canberra prices in 2018-19 was 11.8 cents per litre but since the ICRC commenced its investigations in February, the petrol prices in Canberra and Sydney have started to align, with the difference in May 2019 being only 0.6 cents per litre.

Last year, Canberra’s monthly average petrol prices were consistently higher than the five largest capital cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide – but the price gaps narrowed during the first three months of this year.

The report also examined retail petrol prices in regional towns around Canberra, including Batemans Bay, Nowra, Goulburn, Yass, Cooma and Wagga Wagga, finding Canberra’s petrol prices averaged around 1.7 cents per litre higher since 2012-13.

The average monthly price difference between Canberra and surrounding towns widened in the last six months of 2018 but has narrowed over 2019 to be 0.4 cents per litre in May.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said Canberrans are getting ‘ripped off’ by petrol prices. Photo: Daniella Jukic.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the report shows that most Canberrans are “getting ripped-off at the bowser”.

“The analysis showed Canberra petrol stations were making much larger profits than petrol stations in Sydney and regional NSW,” Mr Barr said.

“The evidence and information from the ICRC’s investigations show the market is not serving our community, and service stations are charging motorists higher prices than in other cities and the surrounding region.

“Canberra service stations are making nearly twice the profit of petrol stations in nearby regional locations.”

The report said that the ACT’s concentrated retail petrol market and a low number of independent retailers with a “business strategy to aggressively discount” are two of the factors behind Canberra’s higher average monthly petrol prices.

The report said it also reflects the “relatively poor visibility” of many petrol stations in Canberra (in that they are difficult to locate), making it difficult for consumers to compare competing retailers’ prices.

Mr Barr has advised the Legislative Assembly to consider the merits of a standing enquiry into petrol prices in the ACT, with the same powers as the ICRC to compel financial documents from companies, before releasing its final report and recommendations later this year.

Mr Barr said the report confirmed that proposals such as fuel watch schemes that lock in daily prices, as seen in other jurisdictions, will be unlikely to lead to lower prices and can reduce market competition.

“It appears the scrutiny of the ICRC and the extraordinary powers it holds to compel companies to hand over financial records has made a difference to the prices being charged to Canberra motorists,” he said.

“We need to ensure this continues and providers don’t unjustifiably hike their prices.”

However, Opposition leader Alistair Coe said the Chief Minister’s suggestion for the Legislative Assembly to initiate a standing enquiry was a “cop-out”.

“It is fair to say that there is no silver bullet when it comes to reducing petrol prices within the ACT,” Mr Coe said. “To think that an Assembly committee will be the answer, I think is a bit of a cop-out.

“There are some very practical things the ACT Government can do, such as making sure there is real-time price publishing. It is complex and there needs to be a range of solutions or initiatives to put downward pressure on prices.

“It simply does not stack up that places like Bowral have considerably cheaper petrol than Belconnen. Unfortunately, I wasn’t surprised by the price differences because the gauge has been happening for so many years.

“Canberrans have become accustomed to it and for a lot of people, it is just another blow to the cost of living in the ACT.”


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19 Responses to Petrol prices drop but Chief Minister wants more pressure on service stations
JC JC 6:37 pm 30 Jul 19

Biggest problem here is the price remains static. Interestingly for the school holiday period and the 2-4 weeks prior fuel was cheaper here in Canberra than in Sydney (and yeah know someone will tell me they paid $1.20 somewhere or another but talking the price most stations charge). But in the past 1-2 weeks Sydney has gone into another discount cycle where prices have dropped significantly.

But look at petrol spy and the prices in newcatle and Wollongong have not followed suit and are on par with most servos here.

Now the question is why don’t we get the discount cycles or why is pricing in Sydney so cyclical.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 5:54 pm 30 Jul 19

“Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the report shows that most Canberrans are “getting ripped-off at the bowser”

Everything else in Canberra (particularly government taxes, fees, charges etc.) is terrifically affordable, and great value for money, so it’s good to see the petrol pump rip-offs finally being dealt with……..

Hamish Sinclair Hamish Sinclair 5:28 pm 30 Jul 19

paid 1.35 for diesel in Crookwell now and each week for the past month

Baggy Sack Baggy Sack 4:33 pm 30 Jul 19

I’d be much happier if they matched tap beer to be the same price per litre.

Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 7:16 am 30 Jul 19

Not Lanyon. They NEVER drop here

Anthony Vella Anthony Vella 7:07 am 30 Jul 19

There's probably a glut of diesel now the ACT has cut back busses so much😉

James Forge James Forge 7:43 pm 29 Jul 19

131.9 in several Goulburn outlets and 128.7 on one according to Petrol spy.

133.7 in Costco which is usually the cheapest in Canberra and typically 140+ everywhere else.

Looks like the pressure is not enough yet.

Natalie Ferris Natalie Ferris 7:35 pm 29 Jul 19

Paid 1.19 in Sydney and even pay 1.39 I'm my rural town

Brad Miller Brad Miller 7:34 pm 29 Jul 19

Costco Canberra diesel 1.41.7 compared to Costco Casula diesel 1.34.7.

I know where I will be filling up again from

Lyndon Zoukowski Lyndon Zoukowski 7:31 pm 29 Jul 19

Election is coming...

Jodie SB Jodie SB 6:59 pm 29 Jul 19

Hahaha all the sceptics out tonight....

Sarelle Woodward Sarelle Woodward 6:54 pm 29 Jul 19

I haven’t seen a change.

Boweavil Kat Boweavil Kat 6:51 pm 29 Jul 19

Really, where?

Ben Sweetapple Ben Sweetapple 6:41 pm 29 Jul 19

Top of his list, hasn’t paid for fuel in years, and even if he did, with his salary, wouldn’t care anyway

    Mark Johanson Mark Johanson 8:37 pm 29 Jul 19

    The retailers must be shaking in their boots with that sort of pressure!

Paul Cee Paul Cee 6:37 pm 29 Jul 19

Yep he will keep the pressure on alright.... on everyone in the ACT by putting up rates by 8% a year.

Shayne Borger Shayne Borger 6:33 pm 29 Jul 19

More utter hot air from Barr

Steve Jones Steve Jones 6:20 pm 29 Jul 19

Keep pressure on Retailers??? How??

    Steve Ulrich Steve Ulrich 6:53 pm 29 Jul 19

    yeah this is a question i want answered as well

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