FRESH analysis of petrol prices shows the average Cairns motorist is being slugged $330 more a year for fuel than a Melburnian.
The study, prepared by the Parliamentary Library for the ALP, used data from the Australian Automobile Association to compare retail petrol prices in Cairns with the major capital cities.
“This five years of data confirms what we all know – Cairns motorists are getting ripped off at the petrol pump over and over again,” said new Labor Senator for Queensland Anthony Chisholm.
“It is now more expensive in Cairns than in Hobart or Darwin to fill up, a ridiculous situation.”
But the state’s peak motoring body has questioned the library’s methodology.
“A better comparison would be of Cairns with cities of the same size,” said RACQ spokeswoman Renee Smith.
“Capital cities are on price cycles, which means prices go up really high then trickle down really low; the movement is very different.
“Cycles are now going for more than a month – the last one lasted 40 days – which means if you’re looking at monthly data, you’re not accurately capturing the price cycle.”
Ms Smith conceded petrol prices in Cairns had been “too high for too long” and an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission was warranted.
“Today Cairns motorists are paying an average of 130.0 cents per litre (cpl) for unleaded,” she said.
“We think a fair price is 119.2 cpl, so that’s more than 10 cpl above what we believe is fair in Cairns.”
Mr Chisholm has vowed to hold Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch accountable to the ACCC’s findings, which may not be released until early next year.
Mr Entsch said he shared the same concerns as Mr Chisholm, who he challenged to come up with a solution.
“The government can’t impose fuel prices but what we can do is we can start to encourage others into the market,” he said.
“If there is any evidence of collusion or gouging then there are options available to us for prosecuting offenders.”
Extracted in full from the Cairns Post.