Matt Taylor

THERE are renewed calls for the competition watchdog to investigate Central Coast fuel prices after an independent study confirmed Woy Woy peninsula motorists were “paying through the nose” for petrol.

An NRMA investigation into pump prices on the Central Coast found an alarming 25c price disparity for unleaded fuel (E10) over the past month, with a high of 153c a litre on the peninsula on August 2 after a low of 128c a litre in Tuggerah on July 14.

It came in response to an Express Advocate probe that found a 17c fuel price differential on July 13 between Woy Woy (Shell and BP, 142c) and Tuggerah (Metro, 125c).

NRMA president Kyle Loades said many of the Coast’s 81 petrol stations refused to participate in the peak motoring body’s study, which ran from July 14 to August 16 with figures compiled by Informed Services.

“What we have found simply confirms your investigation last month,” Mr Loades said.

“Peninsula motorists are paying through the nose for fuel, and the findings could have been worse because some of the petrol stations in that area did not want to disclose information.”

The Express Advocate has also monitored petrol stations in Terrigal and Erina over the past month and found two had a price variance of 14c, with a high of 147c a litre for unleaded fuel on July 19 before it dropped to 133c on Wednesday.

Mr Loades said there was no justification for the petrol price hikes.

“There has been little movement of crude oil prices and the Aussie dollar so that is not acceptable,” he said.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission earlier this month announced its next regional petrol price probe would be in Armidale. But Mr Loades believes the Central Coast has a strong case for an investigation by the competition watchdog.

“Follow-up studies are definitely needed and we’re keen to get even more accurate information.”

“Clearly local market conditions are driving up prices. and this is why we want motorists to dob in an overpricer. Those operators who are charging such high prices are simply not interested in competition.”

He said the NRMA would continue to ramp up pressure on the Coast’s service-station operators.

“It’s important to maintain the focus on this great price disparity,” Mr Loades said.

“The population growth on the Central Coast means there is a need for greater transparency.

“The truth is out there and we need to get to the bottom of it.”

Extracted in full from: dailytelegraph.com.au