Under the pump
Tuesday, 21st September, 2010
Local motorists have been paying more than 20 cents extra per litre at the petrol pump compared to other cities.
University of NSW Competition and Consumer Law expert, Associate Professor Frank Zumbo said Broken Hill motorists were not getting the benefits of falling petrol prices.
Due to the strong Australian dollar, retail prices across the major capital cities and regional centres have seen their prices dramatically fall by more than 15 cents.
He said it was easy to target Broken Hill with high petrol prices because the oil companies could "get away with it".
"It's now cheaper to import refined unleaded into Australia from Singapore," Prof. Zumbo said.
He said with the cheaper price of importing, local prices should be falling.
Fuel prices in Sydney averaged out at $1.12 per litre, Newcastle and Wollongong at $1.15, and Albury at $1.20; according to the Australian Institute of Petroleum (AIP) results released on September 12.
Over the course of two months, whilst other cities prices have decreased, Broken Hill has remained unchanged at around $1.30.
Prof. Zumbo said there were two possible reason for petrol costing more in regional NSW areas such as Broken Hill.
One was that the wholesale price has been kept inflated by the oil companies, he said.
Prof Zumbo said oil companies could be creating what he calls a "cosy club," where they act independently, but shadow each other's prices for mutual benefit.
"The oil companies appear to be playing games across NSW."
He said the prices locally had not moved at all, whilst prices in other centres had decreased dramatically.
Prof Zumbo said it was also possible that local retailers were playing games.
He said petrol stations could also be following one another and keeping their prices high across the city.
Prof Zumbo said transperancy would be the first step in solving the petrol price problem in Broken Hill.
"We need to know what the wholesale price is in Broken Hill, so we can (decide) who really is playing games."
He said it would be difficult to find out wholesale prices as oil companies don't usually reveal them.
"We need an investigation into petrol prices in Broken Hill."
Results from the AIP released yesterday show Adelaide prices increased by 9.5%, and nationally prices have risen on average by 3.6 cents to $1.23, still lower than prices locally.
* Even after the most recent price hikes in metropolitan areas, the cost of petrol in Broken Hill is about 10 cents higher than capital cities and regional centres.