There is an irony when all of Tamworth is talking about the high cost of petrol, yet NSW Fair Trading is asking for comments on improving mandated fuel price signs.
The consumer affairs regulator is reviewing the standard in place to rovide greater transparency for motorists choosing fuel.
By allowing consumers to choose the lowest priced petrol available, price boards were effective in increasing competition between petrol retailers, the department said yesterday.
What competition, the people of Tamworth are asking?
While we have plenty of petrol stations, we don’t seem to have adequate competition, because the cost of fuel in Tamworth remains consistently high.
So high in fact, it is regularly in the state’s top three most expensive centres.
While we are not advocating Fair Trading abandon its mandated fuel price signs regulation, the question has to be asked what value are the boards if the fuel price does not vary between one service station to the next?
The Fair Trading review is part of a national approach to fuel price board rules.
The citizens of Tamworth, sick of paying high prices for fuel while centres north and south of the city receive the benefit of significantly cheaper petrol, would have been happier if Fair Trading was announcing an investigation into what many are calling Tamworth’s
In fact, since this issue became headline news there has been no comment from any of the regulators or the fuel companies. And the high price scenario has been going on for years.
New England MP Tony Windsor has asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate the situation in Tamworth, but apart from that there has been silence by all other parties.
The petroleum industry has not responded. In comparison, mention anything about coal seam gas exploration or coal mining and the Minerals Council is quick to respond to ensure the opinion of miners is not forgotten.
Petrol pricing has long been described as a mystery and perhaps the less said about it, in the eyes of the petrol providers, is part of the strategy to keep it that way.
What Tamworth wants to know is, why do we pay more? And how can we force down the high cost of petrol to bring us in line with other regional centres where fuel costs much less?
Good questions still waiting for answers.