April 21, 2020 13:08:37

Residents in Western Australia’s South West are paying up to 40 cents more per litre for unleaded petrol than drivers in the Perth metropolitan area.

Key points:

  • South West WA politicians say it’s “incredibly unfair” that the drop in petrol prices isn’t being passed on to consumers in the bush
  • With global oil prices at a record low, major fuel companies say they’re more concerned with competition in metropolitan markets
  • The ACCC says it is monitoring the situation and taking note of businesses that aren’t pricing their products fairly

Local politicians have written to BP, Caltex and Shell, and are urging Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg to have the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) investigate the disparity.

Bunbury MP Don Punch said with the vertiginous drop in the world oil price due to COVID-19, he expected fuel prices would plummet in the region as they did in Perth.

Mr Punch said he contacted some of the major companies and was told their focus was on the Perth market.

“Basically, the explanation I was getting back was that they are seeing a stable market share in the Bunbury area and it’s very competitive in the Perth market,” he said.

“That was their rationale for maintaining the price in Bunbury.

“It’s incredibly unfair because it’s a vital part of people’s budget in the bush — people need their car and we don’t have the same access to public transport.

“Fuel is a critical part of household budgets, and here we have the fuel companies basically saying, ‘Well, tough this is our price, take it.'”

Privately owned businesses will win out

One fuel station in the Great Southern region has managed to achieve what would have been considered impossible a week ago — it is selling unleaded petrol for 99.9 cents a litre.

Colin Park owns a fuel station in Albany which was the first to offer unleaded fuel for less than one dollar per litre.

“I feel good because a lot of my customers, and strangers we’ve never seen before … appreciate it very much,” Mr Park said.

“I’d be surprised if it goes lower.

“In the country we have to pay so much per litre to get it here and that’s a little bit of a killer, where Perth is a lot lower.

“But if I can do it, trust me — I will.”

A spokesperson for the ACCC said it was monitoring the market closely to ensure reductions were passed onto consumers and that businesses that did not were being identified.

But the spokesperson said fuel prices were generally higher in regional areas due to lower population and demand, which led to less competitive prices.

“Where there is competition in an area, you tend to see lower prices,” they said.







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