Petrol prices in Australia have remained persistently high, despite falling an average 9¢ a litre on Australia’s east coast in the past week.

As Prime Minister Scott Morrison declined at his National Press Club address on Tuesday to answer how much a litre of petrol was, the surge in petrol prices over the past six months is expected to become a cost of living issue at the federal election due by May.

Higher petrol prices have contributed to rising inflation, which has jumped by 3.5 per cent in the past year.

Aided by global oil prices, which have posted a sixth successive weekly gain, unleaded petrol prices have remained high across the country.

While they have come off 9¢ a litre compared with last week, they remain high as families head back to work and school in NSW and Victoria.

The national average weekly retail unleaded petrol price eased from 170.4¢ to 169.6¢ a litre, according to the Australian Institute of Petroleum.

But Hobart (181.4¢ a litre), Perth (174¢) and Canberra (172.2¢) all experienced record prices last week.

Average retail unleaded petrol prices were about 171.1¢ a litre in Sydney, 168.9¢ in Brisbane and 165.4¢ in Melbourne, according to fuel monitoring website MotorMouth.

The wholesale or terminal gate price average of all capital cities hit a record high of 159.9¢ a litre on Tuesday, up 19¢ from lows on December 9.

The gross retail margin fell from 15.84¢ a litre to 14.63¢, according to CommSec.

Using the Australian Bureau of Statistics Household Expenditure Survey and assuming the purchase of 35 litres of petrol a week, CommSec estimated households spent a near record $237.44 on petrol last week.

When asked by a journalist to name the price of a litre of milk, a loaf of bread and a litre of petrol, Mr Morrison refused to answer, but said the Coalition government was always working to make everyday items more affordable.

“I’m not going to pretend to you that I go out each day and I buy a loaf of bread and I buy a litre of milk,” the Prime Minister said. “I’m not going to pretend to you that I do that. I’ll leave those sort of things to you, mate.

“I do my job every day to ensure that those things are affordable as they possibly can be for Australians every single day.”

Extracted in full from: High petrol prices loom as election issue (