17 March 2016

DRAMATIC differences in the price of fuel between the Great Lakes and Taree districts continue to baffle and anger local motorists.

Prices at the bowser over the past decade have varied by up to 20c/L. At the time of writing Taree residents were paying an average of 109.4c/L, while Forster-Tuncurry motorists had to fork out an additional 6c for every litre.

Sydney drivers were paying 112c/L. Some local drivers have resorted to driving to Taree to take advantage of the cheaper fuel prices.

Caltex, Forster franchisee Inderjit Batra said he had no say in bowser prices. Mr Batra, who along with partner Benkaj Kumar has been in the business for only the past six months, said prices were set by the Caltex head office.

He understood these were determined by international prices, particularly Singapore.

According to the Australian Institute of Petroleum, which represents Australia’s oil industry, the Singapore price of unleaded petrol is the key petrol pricing benchmark for Australia.

Oasis service station Tuncurry owner Stan Wilson based his pump price on the cost of wholesale fuel, what local company-owned and franchisees charged, along with costs associated with running a successful independent outlet.

Mr Wilson said he did not know what service stations in Taree charged primarily because he was only interested in the local market.

He believed variations in the price of fuel between outlets in the Great Lakes and Taree were no different from those in suburban Sydney or Newcastle.

“But, yes the company sites (prices) would be set,” he said. Mr Wilson described the independent service station industry as an “incredibly involved business”.

He said strict government regulations meant he had to continually monitor, maintain and up date equipment and structures.

Mr Wilson would receive little change from $500,000 if he was to replace a bowser and tank.

“The big beneficiary of a litre of petrol is the federal government through its fuel excise,” he said.

The federal government collects 38.6c/L in excise, part of which is to fund national road construction and repairs.

“The wholesale price has increased by 2c in the past week but our fuel prices have remained the same,” he said.

Forster resident Peter Sadler believed local fuel prices were exorbitant and wanted to know why Taree and other coastal towns were cheaper.

He was struggling to understand why fuel in Nambucca Heads was 110c/L, and two hours down the road it cost an additional 5c.

He understood it was mainly the supplier and the big petrol companies which were reaping the benefits.

Rather cheekily, Mr Sadler said: “I think there should be a Royal Commission into the price of fuel in Australia.”

Extracted in full from Great Lakes Advocate.