Tumut fuel the most expensive in NSW

ANOMOLIES between standard grocery costs and disparate petrol prices across the state put forward by supermarket monopolies have left the Tumut community frustrated and wanting answers.

Figures released by the National Roads and Motorists' Association (NRMA) indicate that Tumut has the most expensive unleaded petrol in NSW.

Mayor Trina Thomson said the hiked cost of petrol in Tumut seemed unjustified and questioned why Coles and Woolworths could deliver certain groceries at the same prices across the state, but petrol varied.

"To be honest, I'd really appreciate answers," Councillor Thomson said.

"It's really, really frustrating when you look at the price.

"We don't understand why there's such an anomoly in prices with Coles and Woolworths, why the price is so high.

Cr Thomson recalled the town had at least an additional two petrol stations about 15 years ago, putting the dwindling number of independent services down to the growth of Coles and Woolworths.

Tumut has averaged the most expensive unleaded petrol for eight consecutive weeks ending November 9, with the last average cost at 162.5 cents.

NRMA media spokesman Peter Khoury explained the petrol market in Australia is like nowhere else in the world and called for increased transparency and competition to address fluctuations.

"Whenever there's an independent service station, they're going to push their price down to compete with Coles and Woolworths," Mr Khoury said.

"There's a lot of unanswered questions."

He confirmed Tumut had three service stations: Caltex-Woolworths, Caltex and Coles.

Both Coles and Woolworths declined to comment when contacted, but Caltex confirmed Woolworths set the price of fuel at its Fitzroy Street Caltex-Woolworths service station and the local operator set the price of fuel at the Adelong Road Caltex Tumut.

It's believed this third service station is a retailer of Tasco Petroleum, but the appropriate person wasn't available to comment when contacted yesterday.

Caltex does not control the price at any of the four sites that their brand is carried in the Tumut area, including Adelong and Batlow.

In conjunction with the The Tumut and Adelong Times

THE already higher cost of fuel in regional areas could increase by $372 a year by 2018 with the reintroduction of indexation on the fuel tax, according to the National Roads and Motorists' Association (NRMA).

The NRMA analysed the average fuel consumption of different vehicles travelling various distances and calculated the additional fuel tax cost of indexing fuel excise to the rate of 2.5 per cent per annum inflation to indicate driving 1000km/week in a Toyota Hi Lux would cost more than $70 in additional tax and GST over the next year and $372 annually by 2018, while driving 500km/week in a Ford Falcon would cost an additional $142 by 2018.

"The federal government has given estimates the changes to the fuel excise will cost motorists $21 this year," NRMA local director Graham Blight said.

"However, the NRMA's analysis shows the impact the tax will have as it increases each year with indexation and the GST impact.

"The NRMA is opposed to the federal government's new unfair tax because Australian motorists already pay more than $15 billion annually, with around one-third being reinvested back into roads.

"Australian motorists already contribute handsomely to general revenue and to make matters worse, even if the legislation is rejected in parliament, it's the oil companies who will get refunded, not the motorists who paid the tax in the first place."

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) spokesman told The Daily Advertiser fuel prices were set by participants in the relevant market.

"The ACCC's role is to prevent anti-competitive conduct, such as price fixing or collusion, to protect consumers," he said.

Fuel prices are generally higher in regional Australia compared with the larger capital cities because of lower population and demand resulting in fewer outlets, leading to less competition; higher costs for transport and storage of fuel; less demand for convenience sales like drinks, food and newspapers that can enable retailers to add to overall profits and keep fuel prices lower; the location of outlets - whether or not they are on a highway and likely to attract a high number of customers."

The ACCC announced in August it had instituted proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against Informed Sources (Australia) Pty Ltd (Informed Sources) and several petrol retailers alleging that they contravened section 45 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

They allege the information sharing arrangements between Informed Sources and the petrol retailers, through a service provided by Informed Sources, allows those retailers to communicate with each other about their prices, and that these arrangements had the effect or likely effect of substantially lessening competition in markets for the sale of petrol in Melbourne.

The petrol retailers who have joined in the ACCC's proceedings include BP Australia Pty Ltd, Caltex Australia Petroleum Pty Ltd, Eureka Operations Pty Ltd (trading as Coles Express), Woolworths Ltd and 7-Eleven Stores Pty Ltd.

Average unleaded petrol prices earlier this month, according to the NRMA:

Orange 145.7

Temora 146.3

West Wyalong 147.9

Griffith 148.9

Gundagai 149.9

Leeton 149.9

Hay 150.4

Deniliquin 150.8

Cootamundra 151.4

Wagga 151.6

Albury 151.7

Tumut 162.5

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