Rachel Riley, 22 January 2016

TOWNSVILLE motorists are being slugged almost 15c a litre too much at the bowser despite filling up with the cheapest fuel in six years.

The RACQ will today release its Annual Fuel Report, which shows Townsville drivers are enjoying the cheapest unleaded prices since 2010.

But as the world crude oil tumbles to a low of less than $US27 a barrel, experts say motorists in the North are still paying too much.

RACQ spokeswoman Renee Smith said historic data showed that in April 2004, oil was selling at $US29.60 a barrel, which put Townsville pump prices at around 90c a litre.

The average price in Townsville yesterday was 119.2c, a drop from 135.8c in 2015 and a big relief from 2014 when prices soared to more than 152c.

In 2010, the average price was 126.7c.

Ms Smith said while the weak Australian dollar combined with inflation meant prices were unlikely to reach that low again any time soon, there was still room to move.

“The dollar is weaker now and getting weaker so that isn’t helping with what we pay at the bowser,” she said. “But taking into account wages and overheads that have inflated in years gone by, we think a fair price is more like $1.05.

“We have seen in some parts of the state that prices are falling down below $1.10 and we expect to see the average fall below that.”

According to the RACQ’s report, Ayr was the cheapest town to fuel up in the state last year with unleaded selling at 123.1c on average and diesel at 123.4.

The average price there yesterday was cheaper again at 109.4c for unleaded and 100.8c for diesel.

Townsville Fuel Price Watch administrator Terry Cochrane said he was getting at least three requests a day from fed-up motorists looking to join the Facebook page to find a better deal at the bowser.

“There is no reason why prices should still be this high,” he said. “Taking into account the dollar and inflation, we are still being ripped off because unfortunately the big retailer players have the monopoly.”

Mr Cochrane said people power was the only factor keeping fuel stations honest in Townsville.

“I personally can’t see why it can’t be 99c or a dollar because there are a lot more motorists than there was so retailers are selling more fuel than they were 10 years ago,” he said.

“There has to be a point between making a reasonable profit and total greed so we have to keep fighting.”

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims this week criticised a “lack of robust competition’’ saying he believed prices had “further to come down’’.

Herbert MP Ewen Jones admitted petrol was a “grudge purchase” but conceded the Federal Government did not regulate prices.

“Everyone wants prices to be as low as humanly possible,” he said.

Extracted in full from the Townsville Bulletin.