THE dramatic variation in fuel prices across the New England has been slammed, but independents and locally owned fuel stations are trying to do their part.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshal has come out swinging at 'cartel'-like fuel providers who aren't passing along cheap fuel prices.
With demand for fuel worldwide dropping sharply due to the COVID-19 pandemic, terminal gate prices in Australia are at their lowest in years - 84.4 cents per litre at Sydney and 83.4 cents per litre in Brisbane.
The average across the region for unleaded 91 fuel was 130.3 cents a litre - a full 11 cents above the NSW average and eight cents above the regional NSW average.
Tamworth's Ben Clifton, co-owner of Transwest Fuels, said local families and businesses are already doing it tough after the horrific drought and fire conditions, let alone COVID-19.
"We are doing our best to bring competitive pricing to every household and business in the region," he explained.
Why wouldn't you buy from an independent who is 10-15 per cent cheaper and is buying fuel from the same fuel terminals. You wouldn't do it with a carton of beer.Ben Clifton
"I doubt you will see prices drop from major oil company outlets as customers continue to blindly purchase fuel at higher rates. Vote with your tank."
With Armidale's prices consistently high, Mr Clifton said the reason was simple: not enough independent competition.
"Why wouldn't you buy from an independent who is 10 to 15 per cent cheaper and is buying fuel from the same fuel terminals. You wouldn't do it with a carton of beer," he pointed out.
Ask yourself, whens the last time big oil companies and major supermarket chains got behind your local sporting team, your local country show, local arts events, rodeos.Ben Clifton
"When you buy from our local business, you support our local suppliers like Peel Valley Milk, Antilles Coffee, Manilla Bakery, etcetera.
"Ask yourself, whens the last time big oil companies and major supermarket chains got behind your local sporting team, your local country show, local arts events, rodeos ... it definitely makes a difference."
Hopes Fuel Service in Gunnedah has been able to keep their prices relatively low, yet say the decreasing demand for unleaded fuel has the potential to take it's toll.
Diesel is seeing a good turnover, as farmers continue to go about their business in the face of shut-downs in a lot of other industries.
Rodney Hope, part owner in his family-run business, says they can afford to drop fuel prices in the face of competition from other bigger petrol companies.
We always run our own prices, that's why we are a fair bit cheaper at the moment.Rodney Hope
"We always run our own prices, that's why we are a fair bit cheaper at the moment," he explained.
"But the price, it varies a fair a bit from here to Newcastle that's for sure."
Without the higher turnover city servos see, it's unlikely regional areas will be able to see prices as low as theirs, he says.
Mr Marshall was infuriated by the price difference, savaging retailers setting prices locally, accusing them of colluding with one another to keep prices high.
"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to work out that there is cartel-like behaviour occurring in our region at the moment," he said.