Supporting independently owned fuel retailers is the best way for Northern Rivers locals to influence fuel prices, Brad Baker says.
The call from the owner of Bakers Corner service station, North Lismore comes after the NRMA released the results of a year-long study into petrol prices on the North Coast that found a 7.5c/litre price discrepancy between the cheapest and most expensive towns in the region.
“Most of the pricing is dictated by the big multinationals and the independents don’t have a say, they’re not big enough,” Mr Baker said.
“If more people supported the independents there would be better pricing because that would give the independents more power.”
Mr Baker’s comments were echoed by NRMA vice-president Wendy Machin.
“It simply comes down to competition and a stronger presence of independent retailers who often have discounted prices,” she said.
Ms Machin said it was incomprehensible there could be a 7.5c/litre difference between fuel at Ballina and South Tweed.
Mr Baker said the pricing problem stemmed from the price retailers paid for their fuel.
“We look at our invoice when the fuel gets delivered and sometimes we have to be a cent dearer than competitors just to make a cent or two.
“If there is a big margin in the fuel you’ll find that a lot of the independents will come down in price then the big operators follow.”
Diversifying his business interests was the only way to remain economically viable, Mr Baker said.
A workshop, the service station and Summerland Cylinder Testing keep the cash flowing.
“There has been no money in fuel for the past 10 years with margins of two or three cents (per litre).
“As an independent it is the only way to keep your head above water.”
Mr Baker said the days of the independent fuel retailer were numbered.