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Puzzling price for our petrol


John Thistleton

Albury motorists are paying up to 11c less per litre for their unleaded petrol than Canberra motorists.

Associate professor in business law at the University of NSW, Frank Zumbo, said Albury's average price for unleaded petrol was consistently lower than Canberra's because it had more independent operators.

Lack of competition among petrol retailers will continue to be felt in Canberra.

CommSec, which is tipping a 2-3c rise in pump prices over the next fortnight, says potential threats to oil supplies in the Middle East and improving economic conditions in the US are key drivers behind the surge in global oil prices.

Mr Zumbo said there was an onus on the government to intervene. ''When you have the sector heavily dominated by the oil companies and Coles and Woolworths, you have a market failure,'' he said.

ACT Minister for Economic Development Andrew Barr said attempts to attract more independents by making sites available had been tried over the past 15 years without much success.

''The small number of independent operators in Canberra is due largely to the operation of the wholesale petrol market. This is outside the control of the ACT government,'' Mr Barr said.

He said the government would not broaden the supermarket competition policy, which sidelines Woolworths and Coles on specific sites to give independent operators a chance of buying them.

Mr Barr said sites were not necessarily earmarked for service stations. ''It is up to petrol retailers to identify sites and make an application for a petrol station under normal [processes].''

According to Environment and Sustainable Development ACT there are 54 service stations in the territory, eight fewer than in 2007.

Mr Barr said advice had been sought from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on whether the ACT had enough service stations, but ultimately it was a matter for the market.

Motor Trades Association ACT executive director Mick Gentleman said service stations were closing at a time of rising population and an increase in the number of cars in Canberra. He said if you deducted the number of people under the driving age from a population of 360,000, the remaining number accounted for almost one registered vehicle per head of population.

The independent Williamsdale Service Station, located south of Canberra, will close at the end of the month as owner Bob Moore, whose father began the business in 1961, is in ill-health. The independent Kingston service station owner in Eyre Street, Robert Holmes, cannot say how long he will stay in business, as the land adjoining a car park is awaiting redevelopment. Latham service station has been converted to units and Lyons service station is being converted to units. Applications have been approved to change Waramanga service station to units and Watson service station to commercial uses.

9 comments so far

  • There is nothing puzzling. Canberrians fill up their car less often than those in region towns. My 45l lasts me 3 weeks despite driving to work every day. Good luck doing that anywhere else.

    Petrol stations still need to make a profit to cover the labour costs so we get to pay more.

    Date and time
    March 20, 2012, 8:15AM
    • Jane you obviously do not have children involved in sports or social activities and seem to live close to work. The average Canberra family would fill the tank at least once a week I suggest.
      Petrol is expensive here because Canberra is an easy touch - where else are you going to go. The bulk of fuel is controlled by Woolworths, and we have no alternate but to use the car, especially for kids sports, etc

      Date and time
      March 20, 2012, 8:24AM
  • If you have ever been to Albury you would know that it is a small town. So how is it that Canberra, which is over three times it size paying more for fuel?? Petrol companies can get away with it. No one is monitoring them and so they do what they want.

    Its not just the petrol companies charging more in Canberra - we get ripped off on a lot of things.

    Where is the petrol watchdog?? I don't feel sorry for petrol companies (now mostly owned by Woolies/Coles anyway) and that they need to make a profit - what about the mums and dads trying to make ends meat?

    Date and time
    March 20, 2012, 8:55AM
    • Two points:

      a) the price is also artifically inflated by 4 cents per litre to cover the shopper docket.

      b) the price of petrol in Gungahlin is regularly more expensive than Civic.

      Shame most of the price of fuel goes in tax, GST on top of tax and excise depending which side of the border you are...

      Outraged of Palmerston
      waiting in the servo
      Date and time
      March 20, 2012, 9:06AM
      • So what excuse do BP and 7-11 have for not being 4 cents cheaper than their Coles/Shell, Woolies/Caltex rivals?

        Date and time
        March 20, 2012, 9:41AM
    • Suck it up folks... The fuel companies will charge according to what they feel the market will bear. If you don't like the prices we are paying in Canberra, fine, move to Albury where the average income per capita is significantly less. It is called a free market economy.

      Date and time
      March 20, 2012, 9:12AM
      • Great, progressive taxation at last.

        Date and time
        March 20, 2012, 10:12AM
        • We fill up our cars with petrol out of Canberra in the surrounding towns as it can be sometimes be up to 20c cheaper than fuel in Canberra.....

          Date and time
          March 20, 2012, 11:29AM
          • We are held to ransom on fuel and food because
            "Its my business
            And I'll charge what I want to
            The gubba ment will screw you
            And theirs nuthing you can do"
            Not a bad song really

            Date and time
            March 20, 2012, 12:49PM

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