Canberrans paying second highest fuel prices in the country
By Sourced Externally
August 17, 2022
Do you remember in May 2020 when Canberra’s fuel prices were barely $1 a litre? Those good old days seem like a lifetime ago.
Canberrans are currently paying the second highest fuel rates in the country, with Unleaded 91 sitting at an average of $1.87 per litre, according to Compare the Market’s Chris Ford.
The national retail standard price has reached $1.74 per litre, meaning Canberrans are paying 13 cents more than the Australian average.
Darwin is the only capital city with prices higher than the ACT at $1.90 per litre, and Adelaide is ranked third at $1.77 per litre.
Mr Ford explained the ACT doesn’t experience a price cycle, unlike most other major Australian cities, so “when fuel is up, everything is up, and when fuel is down, everything is down.”
Before fuel prices dramatically dropped towards the end of May 2020 (largely due to pandemic travel restrictions reducing demand), Australia was experiencing surging price increases with Canberrans copping the brunt of the rises.
When ACT fuel prices failed to fall at the time, Chief Minister Andrew Barr gave strict warnings to local fuel companies, threatening fines of up to $40,000 and six months’ jail time if retailers were found to be gouging customers.
On 4 May 2020, Peter Khoury from the NRMA told the ABC that Canberra’s fuel prices would not have fallen if it weren’t for the Chief Minister’s ultimatum.
So, now that the ACT is again experiencing above-average fuel prices, will the Chief Minister implement that same stance to help Canberrans pay less at the pump?
Mr Khoury told Canberra Weekly that prices in the ACT have been consistently higher than they should be for some time. He said they were previously the highest in the country, but are now falling very slowly by around one cent a day.
“The gap between wholesale and retail prices is over 40 cents a litre, so there’s a long way to go,” Mr Khoury said.
“The ACT Government previously threatened to take action if prices didn’t fall. One thing we’ve called on the ACT Government to do is introduce real time fuel comparison.
“It will make it easier for Canberrans in the ACT to find a bargain – that needs to happen, and we need to see more competition in Canberra. More competition would see these prices come down.”
An ACT Government spokesperson told Canberra Weekly that Chief Minister Andrew Barr is concerned Canberrans are paying the second highest fuel rates in Australia, and Mr Barr has contacted all major fuel operators in the ACT.
When asked if the ACT Government has any plans to help Canberrans during the expected rise at the end of September when the fuel excise reduction ends, the spokesperson said:
“Fuel taxes are exclusively a matter for the Federal Government.
“The ACT Government has put in place a range of policies and initiatives to support more Canberra households to transition away from fuel and to power their vehicles in a much more cost-effective way, using electricity.
“Amongst the many measures in our zero emissions vehicle action plan is to provide access to interest-free loans to support the purchase of electric vehicles and EV charging infrastructure.”
In 2020, the Chief Minister said he would continue to call out fuel companies until their prices in the ACT were at or below the national average.
Today, Canberra prices are well above the national average. The ACT Government spokesperson said the government has reminded fuel retailers of their pricing policy obligations to the Canberra community and of the government’s existing powers if this “unexplained divergence continues”.
The spokesperson said it is particularly important fuel companies operating in the ACT are aware of this as the Federal Government’s temporary reduction in fuel excise tax is due to expire next month.
“The Chief Minister has again written to all of the major fuel retailers operating in the ACT, pointing out that fact and requiring them to explain,” they said.
“He indicated, as he did previously, that they should reduce their prices in line with what are acceptable retail margins in the market —and the benchmark that we are looking at here is the average price in Australia, which takes into account all of the different transport variables, in terms of moving fuel from one part of the country to another — and that Canberra prices should be at or below the national average.”