Grace Mason, 20 January 2016

A MOTORING advocacy group has called for Cairns to top the agenda of a State Government inquiry into inflated fuel pricing.

Yesterday the average price of fuel in the city was $1.31 per litre, which is 13 cents more than local motorists should have been paying, according to the RACQ.

The group is continuing to urge the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate Cairns and say the reason behind the high pricing here is either down to higher overheads or greedy retailers chasing bigger profits.

The RACQ’s Renee Smith said that with the State Government to meet on the matter this year it was vital the city’s plight was highlighted.

“Cairns motorists have been paying too much for too long and we need to get to the bottom of it,” she said.

Falling oil prices and a low Australian dollar have seen prices drop across the country.

Ms Smith said Cairns’ price had hovered about the $1.50 mark six months ago.

The RACQ calculates the fair price for each locality every day based on Terminal Gate Price at the closest terminal, fair costs and margins to retailers and population size to determine the number of sales.

There is a terminal in Cairns and freight costs are factored into the fair price amount.

“There isn’t any good reason (why Cairns is high) when we take things into account,” Ms Smith said.

Townsville’s average price yesterday was slightly cheaper at $1.29.9, Mackay was $1.15.7 and Brisbane was at $1.21.3.

Ayr remained the state’s cheapest fuel with an average of $1.09.9.

Innisfail, Mareeba and Atherton all had lower average prices than Cairns yesterday.

The lowest fuel price in the Cairns region yesterday was $1.27, with the highest $1.50.

Ms Smith said policy changes this year would allow them to reveal the names of those service stations.

Barron River MP Craig Crawford said he would raise the issue with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and labelled the ongoing high prices “very frustrating”.

He said if overheads proved to be the problem, all levels of government needed to tackle the issue, but if it was down to profits, overcharging servos should be named and shamed.

“If they are being greedy and increasing profit margins that’s not on, that’s not the Australian way and hopefully we can call these businesses out,” he said.

He said a similar inquiry held in the Northern Territory had immediate and positive effects and he hoped Queensland could follow suit.

Cairns MP Rob Pyne agreed Cairns’ case should be made a top priority at any inquiry and labelled the high prices “outrageous”.

Extracted in full from the Cairns Post.