Petrol prices in Canberra return to pre-COVID levels

Michael Weaver 20 April 2021
Sign with fuel prices at petrol station

Fuel prices in Canberra are returning to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels. Photo: File.

Petrol prices in Canberra have reached their highest price in more than 12 months according to the latest data from the Australian Institute of Petroleum.

The report shows the average fuel price for unleaded petrol in the ACT for the week ended 18 April was 140.1c per litre, which was still lower than Sydney’s average of 153.5c per litre and 149.1c per litre in Melbourne.

Prices in Canberra were also slightly below the national average of 142.8c per litre.

At this time last year, Canberra’s average was 120.8c per litre. This dropped to 101.3c per litre in May before beginning a steady increase as Australia rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Petrol prices have now crept back to levels seen before the COVID-19 pandemic due to the increasing demand for fuel.

Fuel prices are also subject to the price of unleaded petrol in Singapore which is the benchmark for pricing in the Asia-Pacific market. Changes in Singapore prices generally take about two weeks to work their way through the supply chain in Australian cities and longer in regional areas according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Table showing Retail petrol prices across Australia for the week ending 18 April

Retail petrol prices across Australia for the week ending 18 April. Source: Australian Institute of Petroleum.

The advice is always to shop around, with the Motormouth website showing petrol prices ranged from 133.9c per litre at three fuel stations at Fyshwick, to up to 143.9c per litre at many of Canberra’s other suburbs.

There was also a push last year for petrol prices to be more consistent with those in other major cities after ACT Chief Minister stepped in to ensure the ACT was in line with NSW FuelCheck legislation introduced in 2016 that requires all service stations to post their prices to the public in real-time.

In January last year, Canberra was among the most expensive places in Australia to buy fuel with the average price for unleaded petrol about 145.9c per litre compared to 125.2c per litre in NSW.

Mr Barr wrote to every major petrol retailer in Canberra demanding an explanation as to why prices had dropped in other major metropolitan cities like Sydney but not across the ACT.


READ ALSO: Time for ACT Housing to think family first


Assistant Minister for Economic Development Tara Cheyne said while the ACT has since been more consistent with prices elsewhere in Australia, the government would not rule out capping margins of fuel retailers.

“In fact, often the ACT is doing better as prices are now lower than the national average,” Ms Cheyne said.

“What we’re seeing is that there have been big prices rises across Australia and the world in response to some of the economies emerging out of COVID-19,” she said.

“Capping the margins is something that is available to the ACT Government and this is something we would have to think very carefully about using because it would be a first for a jurisdiction.

“We also need to understand that petrol stations are businesses too and they need to remain viable,” Ms Cheyne said.


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