Why Rocky motorists are being ripped off at the bowser
MOTORISTS forced to pay top dollar for fuel around the Rockhampton region are outraged they aren't enjoying the same cheaper fuel prices as elsewhere.
When Saudi Arabia and Russia launched into a price war over oil early last month, many hurting financially from the COVID-19 pandemic had reasonably expected to receive some relief at the petrol bowser.
One texter to The Morning Bulletin said with petrol costing $1.35 per litre, Rocky was "being ripped off big time".
RACQ spokesperson, Renee Smith said fuel companies had not dropped their price anywhere near as far as they should have and the region was being ripped off.
"Fuel companies are using the fall in the oil price and Terminal Gate Price to bolster their margins rather than passing on these savings to motorists," Ms Smith said.
She said the average price of unleaded petrol in Rockhampton should be no higher than 110cpl - far below the current average of 134.8cpl.
She said regional prices took longer to respond to changes in the price of global oil compared to south east Queensland, but the price had been falling for many weeks and prices should absolutely be lower in CQ.
She said there was no legislation or regulation that could limit fuel prices, instead advising motorists to use price comparison services, like the RACQ Fair Fuel Finder App to get the best deal.
"Normally, competition regulates prices and under normal conditions this works well. ACCC chair Rod Simms raised the possibility of price fixing regulations last week, but this is a last resort option," she said.
Every major fuel retailer was approached for comment and BP responded saying it wasn't its policy to comment on retail site pricing.
A Caltex spokesperson said they understood their customers' desire to see lower fuel prices and over the past few weeks there had been a significant reduction in prices in Central Queensland, with unleaded 91 falling by over 14 cents per litre at all Caltex sites.
"It is however important to note that the continued weakening of the Australian dollar (given oil is traded in US dollars) and reductions in overall consumer demand can impact the cost and in turn the overall retail price of fuel," the spokesperson said.
"Price differentials between metropolitan and regional areas are also not uncommon.
"The ACCC has found metropolitan areas tend to have a high concentration of competing service stations and sell much larger volumes of fuel. Higher transport costs can also contribute to higher fuel prices in regional areas."
Energy Minister Anthony Lynham said his government understood Queenslanders' concerns about the cost of living.
"We have done what we can on fuel prices," Dr Lynham said.
"We've required servos to report their up-to-date prices, and that is data is being made freely available to web and app developers.
"That means Queensland drivers now have 11 websites and apps to find the cheapest servo in town."
He encouraged drivers to use their buying power and spend their money with servos who are doing the right thing.
"Additionally 42.3 cents of every litre is Federal fuel tax," he said.
"I note the Federal Treasurer has asked ACCC to watch that fuel companies are passing on the reduction in the wholesale price to Australian motorists.
"There is nothing preventing the Federal Treasurer from giving the ACCC some real power to deal with this issue."
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said it was very disappointing that the fuel retailers were not passing any potential cost savings onto customers, especially at a time like this.
"The Prime Minister and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg have spoken with ACCC Chair Rod Simms and he is closely monitoring the situation," Ms Landry said.
"They have assured the Federal Government that they will maintain their monitoring role, and the vigilance that that involves, but they will also be calling out any companies that don't pass on the reduction in the wholesale price to hardworking Central Queenslanders."
Queensland LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims had reported the price of petrol must fall to below $1.20 a litre as world oil prices fall.
"Petrol giants gouging the public during this health emergency is corporate greed at its worst," Ms Frecklington said.
"Many Queensland petrol stations are charging more than $1.30 per litre and ripping people off.
"If petrol companies had a shred of decency, they would drop their prices to the level they ought to be."
She said cost of living was a huge issue for Queenslanders right now with and every dollar counts when families are just trying to put food on their table.
"I call on the petrol companies to immediately slash their prices and stop the petrol rip-off," she said.
"If the petrol companies don't budge and their found to be gouging consumers, then the ACCC should come down on them like a tonne of bricks."
A spokesperson from the ACCC said they monitored and reported on fuel prices in more than 190 regional locations across Australia.
Citing a graph from Motormouth of average unleaded prices in Rockhampton over the past 60 days, they said said the average price had come down 11 cents per litre from 145.8 to 134.1.
They said changes in international refined petrol prices usually took between one and two weeks to be reflected in retail petrol prices in the larger capital cities, and longer in the smaller capital cities and in regional areas.
Fuel prices are generally higher in regional Australia due to:
• lower population and demand resulting in fewer outlets, leading to less competition
• higher costs for transport and storage of fuel
• less demand for convenience sales that can enable retailers to add to overall profits and keep fuel prices lower
• the location of outlets-whether or not they are on a highway and likely to get a high number of customers.
ACCC Chair Rod Sim said they would be looking at the market very closely to determine if further sustained reductions in international prices were being passed onto consumers.
"We will be publicly identifying those retailers that are not passing on reductions," Mr Sim said.
Current Queensland fuel prices (cents per litre)
• Rockhampton sits between 129.9 and 135.9.
• Yeppoon: 133.7 - 136.9
• Emerald: 135.9 - 145
• Gladstone: 112.9 - 121.9
• Boyne Island: 98.9,
• Tannum Sands: 119.9.
• Mackay: 123.9 - 129.9
• Brisbane CBD: 105.7 - 123.9