Petrol stations accused of gouging as south-east Queensland prices hit 'exorbitant' levels
A trial of real-time fuel price monitoring will begin in Queensland in December. (ABC News: Kerrin Binnie)
Petrol prices in south-east Queensland have reached a four-year high, as motoring group RACQ accuses service stations of gouging customers.
@JESSEGRAYSON tweet: I just paid $1.82 for petrol, I’m thinking strongly about an electric car.
RACQ spokeswoman Lucinda Ross said the average price for unleaded petrol in Brisbane had risen to $1.62 per litre — the highest figure since July 2014.
“We haven’t seen a peak over $1.60 in four years, so this really is going to hurt drivers,” Ms Ross said.
Ms Ross said international factors were partly responsible, but retailers were also taking a big slice of the higher prices.
“We are seeing indicative retail margins of about 23 cents per litre,” she said.
“Global oil prices have been fluctuating over recent months and we have seen an increase in recent days in those prices so that is some way to understanding what’s happening here.
“But we also have service stations that are actually taking it to the next level and charging exorbitant prices, so that is really disappointing for Brisbane drivers.”
The organisation representing fuel retailers said business owners needed to make a return on their investments.
Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association (ACAPMA) chief executive officer Mark McKenzie said this peak in the price cycle was making up for discounts over the past three weeks.
“It’s almost like having a sale — then you go to recover the discounts that you’ve actually offered as you pack into the front of the petrol price cycle,” Mr McKenzie said.
Mr McKenzie said drivers should start to feel some relief at the bowser soon.
“We should start to steady out in terms of supply and production globally which should at least start to have a moderating effect on petrol prices across the region,” he said.
Price monitoring to start later this year
A trial of real-time fuel price monitoring is to begin in Queensland in December, with the data made available on smartphone apps and websites.
The State Government said all fuel retailers would have to supply updated prices within 30 minutes of a change at the bowser.
The RACQ warned the scheme would not be a silver bullet in terms of driving down prices.
“But what we hope will happen is that drivers will be able to use this information to their advantage and support those service stations charging the lowest prices,” Ms Ross said.
Mr McKenzie agreed the system would not have an immediate impact on the industry.
“It will actually make consumers more aware of how petrol prices are actually changing,” he said.
“But the only thing that actually changes the nature of competition [is] if you start to look at the mix between big and small, independents and corporates, and that’s been an issue that the ACCC has highlighted for some time in the Queensland market as being an area for improvement,” Mr McKenzie said.