Armidale’s burning issue of high fuel prices, from E10 to unleaded to diesel, comes at a cost, a big cost, to livestock transport proprietor Brian Kelly.

While the ACCC has dissected Armidale’s fuel price ‘Bermuda triangle’, Brian Kelly bears a daily financial burden that shows no sign of ending. He estimates higher diesel fuel prices in Armidale add at least $40,000 a year to his business’s fuel bill.

In the last week of November, people were paying $1.56 cents a litre for diesel at one outlet in Armidale, compared to $1.25 only just down the Gwydir Highway, according to a fuel supplier at Yetman.

The average diesel price in Armidale has dropped in the last week, and as of Tuesday, was $1.24 cents a litre – comparable to Sydney prices.

But that, it appears, is an aberration. Mr Kelly finds over the year, the diesel price in Armidale averages about of 10 cents a litre dearer than nearby centres along the New England highway.

“I just scratch my head, I have no idea why we pay more in Armidale,” Mr Kelly says.

With Kelly’s Transport’s six trucks travelling more than 700,000 km a year, that’s a big cost impost. Kelly’s transports stock as far afield as Texas, Walgett, Bourke and Tamworth.

It’s a good business, but Mr Kelly knows every year there’s a cost he can’t escape.

“I am just that disgusted with it. We travel all over the place and Armidale is definitely the worst for fuel prices.’’

An ACCC report released last week found that a lack of competition and high retail margins and profits had fostered a high price climate.

At the moment there are two Caltex stations, one BP, a Coles Express and an Independent operator (Liberty).

An NRMA spokesman said the introduction of more independents would help lower fuel prices.

He said diesel prices were quite high at the moment. The Armidale diesel average had settled at $1.24 this week.

Nationals senator John Williams, who urged for the ACCC inquiry, said because the ACCC found there was no collusion among fuel suppliers, he could only tell Armidale people to shop around.

“I’m very disappointed for people in Armidale, especially working people like Brian Kelly because it’s costing them a lot more to run their businesses,’’ Sen Williams said.

More fuel questions would be asked of the ACCC at a senate committee hearing in February, he said.

Extracted from The Land