Annika Smethurst, 19 January 2016

MOTORISTS are still being ripped off at the bowser despite world oil prices dropping to the lowest level in a decade.

But experts say relief is on the way, with prices in Melbourne predicted to go below $1.10 a litre within a week.

While some service stations in regional and suburban areas are now selling petrol for close to $1 a litre, the average price of unleaded in Melbourne has failed to dip below $1.20 ­despite the price of oil plummeting in the past few weeks. And in country Victoria, prices ­remain even higher.

Australia’s corporate watchdog has put petrol companies on notice, claiming that both the retail and refiner margins are too high.

“The retail margins are probably about 6c too high. And the refiner margins, which are set overseas, can come down,” said Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims.

He said while it would “unreasonable” to cap fuel prices, the ACCC would be “calling out” when they were too high.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Victorian Senator John Madigan welcomed moves by the ACCC to make fuel prices more transparent.

Senator Madigan said there was “something really fishy” when petrol prices remained at the same level during a fall in the wholesale price.

“Petrol is an essential and rorting by anyone in the supply chain is unacceptable,” he said.

Mr Shorten called on the ACCC to “redouble its efforts” to make sure that Australian motorists weren’t “taken for a ride” by petrol giants.

“We are sick and tired of petrol companies playing games with the price,” he said.

“Most motorists know that this is just a crock of nonsense.”

But Victoria’s peak motoring body said the current prices were part of the regular price cycle and the world oil price was not the only factor that influenced the pump price.

Michael Case from the RACV said although it could be “confusing and frustrating”, drivers needed to accept the price cycle and fill up when prices were low.

“There is not a direct relationship between the world oil price and retail petrol prices,” Mr Case said. Other factors included exchange rates, supply chain costs, and the lag ­between global market and local bowser prices.

Bendigo motorist Michael Smit, who paid $1.19 a litre to fill up, said prices were still too high. “I would definitely welcome any price fall,” he said.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said consumers expected retailers to deliver lower prices to motorists.

“I think all Australians would expect that if the global oil price is going down then petrol prices should also.”

annika.smethurst@news.com.au

Extracted in full from the Herald Sun.