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Fuel price survey shows swings
6/12/2000 5:13 PM
Petrol is generally cheaper to buy early in the week in the metropolitan area according to an extensive price survey by the Ministry for Fair Trading.
Fair Trading Minister Doug Shave said the six-week survey had also shown fuel prices had come down in country areas but that there was still a significant gap between Perth prices.
“Apart from major centres such as Bunbury and Albany, country fuel prices have come down only one or two cents a litre,”
Mr Shave said.
“This does not demonstrate a real commitment by the industry.”
Mr Shave said the survey showed that metropolitan area prices were manipulated each week to exploit the pre-weekend rush.
“The survey found city motorists could save money by buying on Monday and Tuesday and up to noon on Wednesday before prices began rising to a peak on Thursday,” he said.
“I would like to be able to advise motorists to take advantage of this pricing policy and buy fuel earlier in the week. However,
I’m sure that as soon as motorists changed buying habits the companies would change their pricing strategies.”
Mr Shave said that of regional centres monitored, the biggest gap between city and country prices for unleaded fuel was in Onslow, where motorists paid 25.84 cents per litre more last week than city motorists.
Other average city-country price differentials last week (cents per litre in brackets) were:
Tom Price (12.29cpl)
Mr Shave said the Petroleum Products Pricing Amendment Act, recently passed by Parliament, received royal assent this week and would take effect on New Year’s Day, 2001. It would bring greater transparency to the fuel industry and allow motorists to see where big margins were being added in the fuel chain.
“I don’t accept that freight charges and higher retail operating costs alone account for the higher prices at country locations but these issues will be looked at under the transparency initiatives,” the Minister said.
“The plan to have the Prices Commissioner, the head of the Ministry of Fair Trading Pat Walker, establish a maximum wholesale price will stimulate true competition at the wholesale level and also show motorists the real cost of fuel when it leaves the terminal gate.”
In addition, retailers in the metropolitan area and nominated regional centres will have to notify the Prices Commissioner of any changes in their prices.
“Those prices will be fixed for 24 hours from midnight, ending the manipulative volatility that exploits motorists in the metropolitan area,” Mr Shave said.
“Retailers will have to think seriously about their pump prices or risk being uncompetitive for the day ahead.”
The Ministry of Fair Trading will continue to monitor fuel prices and make price information available on the Internet and on a phone hotline in the New Year.
Media contact: John Clune (08) 9213 6500