Petrol prices largely outside Government control

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Letter to the Bundaberg NewsMail:


Mr Barry is at it again (11/8), only telling half the story.

Government cannot dictate what price private businesses charge for their products and services.

Petrol prices are largely influenced by factors outside State and Federal Government control, such as the crude oil price and the exchange rate.

What Governments can do is direct Australia’s consumer watch dog, the ACCC, to protect motorists from unfair commercial practices at the bowser.

On December 11 last year I wrote to Minister Bruce Billson to express my concern that Hinkler residents were paying 30 cents more per litre of fuel than those in capital cities.

Most people understand that fuel is a little more expensive in the regions because of freight costs, but that does not explain the disparity we saw late last year.

Crude Oil prices had dropped by 40 per cent and, yet, major fuel retailers were not passing the savings on to Hinkler motorists.

My letter also highlighted the fact that diesel prices locally were markedly higher than unleaded, despite costing significantly less to produce.  

As a result, on December 17, Minister Billson issued a new direction to the ACCC under section 95ZE of the Competition and Consumer Act of 2010 to conduct at least four regional investigations each year with quarterly price monitoring reports.

The announcement, and ongoing scrutiny by the ACCC, prompted the local unleaded price to drop by at least ten cents per litre. Diesel prices were reduced, and today remain lower than unleaded.  

I acknowledge the price of unleaded has slowly crept back up in recent months. This is because of a weakening exchange rate, which forces up import costs.

Fuel taxes are necessary to fund our $6.7 Billion investment in the Bruce Highway, including $21 million for Childers, Howard and Torbanlea.    

We continue to provide diesel fuel rebates to farmers and fishers.

If Mr Barry is expecting a silver bullet from the State Labor Member for Bundaberg that will permanently fix fuel prices, he’ll be waiting a long time because there isn’t one.

State Labor has shown it has no plan to reduce cost of living for regional Queenslanders, especially in relation to the many household bills they control.

Within months of their election they increased car registration fees.

I’d like to know how they plan to reduce the cost of electricity, now that they’ve transferred their debt burden to Ergon and Energex?     

 Keith Pitt MP

Federal Member for Hinkler  

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