FUEL outlets have been giving themselves an early Christmas present by hiking the price of fuel in the lead up to the busiest time of the year.

Thousands of motorists have already taken to the streets to get to their Christmas destinations early.

The fuel price rose about 20 cents at the bowser to around $136.9 last Thursday.

But Fueltrac’s Geoff Trotter said the price should have only increased around three to four cents.

“The wholesale price has gone up three or four cents a litre, not 20 cents,” Mr Trotter said.

“There is nothing to justify such a price increase.”

Mr Trotter said fuel had been selling at service stations across the Sunshine Coast and south-east Queensland for around 136.9 and diesel was also at the same price.

MotorMouth’s fuel price checker showed it was still around 136.9 at most outlets around Maroochydore, Caloundra and Noosa today.

But there was one town bucking the trend.

Fuel at Coolum Beach was selling at 119.9 for unleaded, while diesel was at 128.9 cents a litre.

The cheapest price for diesel was at Puma in Kunda Park, where MotorMouth said it could be purchased for 119.0c/L.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) warned fuel companies not to increase the price of fuel in the lead up to Christmas on December 16.

But Mr Trotter said the warning was “three days too late”.

“The ACCC has called on the companies to keep an eye on the petrol price over Christmas,” he said.

“They have missed the fact they have moved all the prices up across Australia already.

“And they have also taken the opportunity to jack up diesel prices as well.”

Mr Trotter said it was remarkable was how all servos, even those linked to grocery giants Woolworths and Coles were selling fuel at roughly the same price.

“It is remarkable to get almost every service station in SEQ up to same price,” Mr Trotter said.

“Where is the competition? I drove around and all of them are the same price.

“How is virtually every service station regardless brand gone to same price? They all have different cost structures and don’t pay the same rent so you have to wonder what have they got behind the scenes that the whole market has gone up to the same price on one day.”

Mr Trotter said owners of diesel vehicles should have been even more mystified at the price hike up until Sunday.

“People driving around seeing 136.9 for unleaded and 136.9 for diesel would have to be saying what on earth is going on here.”

The ACCC did predict on Saturday the petrol price might come down slightly in the next week.

It said the price had peaked in many capital cities “which means that they should be falling at a time when petrol demand is highest”.

“Sales of petrol across Australia are at their highest in the latter half of December, so the fact that prices should be decreasing, albeit from high levels, during a period of high demand will be some comfort to motorists,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“We will be watching closely, as part of our monitoring role, to see that this occurs and will report accordingly.

“It is also important to note that as prices fall, the petrol retailers will move prices at different times, so it will pay to shop around.”

Mr Trotter said the fuel companies had already put the prices up.

“They ignored the warning from our mate (ACCC) and they will try and hold them up for as long as they can.”

Extracted from Coolum & North Shire News