Local contractor Stephen Harrison does a lot of driving throughout the region and is amazed at the irregularity in fuel prices.
Local contractor Stephen Harrison does a lot of driving throughout the region and is amazed at the irregularity in fuel prices.

Ripped off at the pump

LOCAL telecommunication technician Stephen Harrison knows better than most the irregularities in fuel prices, spending most of his days working across the region.

While looking to fill-up late last week, he found diesel for 147.9 cents a litre at The Channon and Coraki, while in Lismore it was up to six cents a litre dearer, ranging from 151.9 to 153.9 cents.

“It can really make a dent in your budget when you travel around as much as me,” he said.

“When The Northern Star gave them a serve up six or seven months ago, it really worked and the prices came down five or six cents a litre.”

Associate Professor Frank Zumbo, a competition and consumer law expert from the University of New South Wales, believes Mr Harrison's complaints are far from unfounded.

He closely studies the Singapore benchmark price that is used to calculate Australian retail prices for unleaded petrol and says Lismore motorists are being “ripped off”.

He estimates the price of unleaded fuel at many Lismore bowsers is currently overpriced by three to five cents a litre.

“The oil companies and major retailers like Coles and Woolworths are again playing games with motorists by failing to fully pass on the recent falls in the Singapore benchmark price,” he said.

“The Singapore benchmark price for unleaded petrol fell dramatically on Friday, May 6, and has remained at lower levels since then.

“As a result, the Australian wholesale price for unleaded has fallen on average about nine cents a litre since Monday, May 9.

“Despite the falls in both the Singapore benchmark price and Australian wholesale prices, the average retail price in Lismore has only fallen by about one cent a litre, which is a tiny fraction of the overall falls in wholesale prices.”

While Prof Zumbo believes some retailers are pocketing the difference, he said the major oil companies might not have passed on the falls to some of the independents.

“There is definitely a rip-off going on somewhere – oil companies and major retailers need to do the right thing and reduce their bowser prices immediately,” he said.


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