TAMWORTH’S petrol prices are the third most expensive in the state.
Drivers aren’t surprised that the NRMA’s Bowser Buster website which ranks prices from the cheapest to the dearest revealed, as of last week, the city’s average unleaded fuel price ranked 50 on the list of 52 other major towns and cities across NSW.
The site informs motorists where fuel is the cheapest (No 1) and dearest (No 52) and shows Tamworth’s bowsers sucked an average of 153.8 cents per litre from consumers’ pockets.
Gunnedah, in comparison – just 50 minutes away – had an average price of 149.9 c/L, while Moree’s fuel was 146.9 c/L and Inverell’s – the cheapest in the New England and North West – was 144.2.
The Leader reported the “rip-off” at Tamworth’s fuel bowsers last week after a business and competition law professor noticed the high prices local motorists were being forced to pay.
Professor Frank Zumbo at the University of NSW said the NRMA ranking only confirmed
what he had been seeing all along – that, despite substantial falls in the wholesale market and world-oil prices, Tamworth motorists were continuing to be ripped off.
While they weren’t shocked by the news, locals were certainly unhappy about it, with many of The Leader’s readers claiming there were several other problems with our town’s fuel situation.
Jane Robertson brought attention to the growing trend of motorists “fuelling up” at cheaper towns before they come to Tamworth.
Lyle Douglas said the high prices were ridiculous, considering there were two major storage and supply depots for petrol in town.
Debbie Mann said it was outrageous that some service stations forced drivers to pay more because they “didn’t have” unleaded fuel.
Many of Tamworth’s stations no longer stock the unleaded option, instead offering an E10 (ethanol blend) variety that’s often incompatible with older-model cars.
The issue stems back to the state government’s February decision to pull its plans to ban unleaded fuel at petrol stations after public outcry.
Many are suggesting the big petrol retailers are continuing not to offer unleaded – which, as a result, is forcing drivers to spend more on high-octane fuel varieties or marginally less on lower-quality E10.
It’s even forced Debbie Mann’s daughter, Courtney Mann, to purchase a new car and ditch her older model to meet the rising fuel costs.
Ms Mann said it was still expensive to buy fuel and not even the supermarket discounts made it cheaper these days.
“I make sure to fill up in Maitland or other towns before I come home from a trip,” she said.
Professor Zumbo said it was disappointing that Tamworth’s petrol retailers weren’t coming to the party when costs were falling across NSW.
“There’s simply no excuse and the ACCC should be investigating it,” he said.
An Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) spokesman said if there was any
evidence of anti-competitive conduct, for example where retailers agreed not to pass on price falls, it would be in breach of the law and the ACCC would certainly investigate.
The spokesman said it could take a longer period of time for the external market prices to flow through to regional areas where prices were typically more stable than in the capital cities – and the ACCC also