A report by the competition watchdog has found Darwin motorists are spending 10 cents more than they should per litre of petrol.
Average petrol price for March 2018:
- Darwin $1.47
- Alice Springs $1.54
- Katherine $1.46
- Tennant Creek $1.54
- Sydney $1.31
- Hobart $1.47
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said the region’s petrol prices had increased significantly and were above a long-term competitive cost-based price due to a lack of local competition and higher retail margins.
In the March 2018 quarter, average retail prices in Darwin were 147.1 cents per litre, with the city only narrowly beaten by Hobart for the highest price by less than 1 cent per litre.
Living in Australia’s smaller cities results in higher prices, with fuel costs in Canberra, Hobart and Darwin always higher than those in larger cities, such as Sydney and Brisbane, with the average difference about 13 cents per litre.
The report also found that Darwin’s average petrol price in December 2017 was the highest in Australia, at 148 cents per litre, almost 13 cents more than Australia’s cheapest in Sydney.
“Along with housing and food, transport is one of the top three areas families need to budget for,” NT Council of Social Services policy advisor Jonathan Pilbrow said.
“Being able to put fuel in your car is critical to employment, training, getting to health services, education as well as social connection.”
Government needs to ‘think outside the box’ to ease financial pressure
The burden of isolation contributed to the higher prices, including a lower level of competition, less fuel sold, distance and location factors and lower convenience store sales.
The ACCC found within regional areas, these factors vary significantly, with the possibility a more modern petrol station in a better location could decide to charge higher prices for fuel.
The Council for Social Services in the Northern Territory wants to see the NT Government giving those on lower incomes discounts for other expenses, such as electricity bills.
“Some things are outside the control of the government, it could be global fuel prices,” Mr Pilbrow said.
“It is important for government to think outside the box when it comes to easing cost of living pressures on Territorians.”
The report found the greater range of prices suggested that a motorist’s decision about where to buy petrol was more important than it was 10 years ago, but when it came to the effectiveness of the Territory’s fuel price reporting scheme the praise was limited.
“The MyFuelApp is an opportunity for increased transparency and that should be welcomed, but looking at the data it has actually shown that prices haven’t gone down,” said Mr Pilbrow.
Petrol prices increased significantly prior to the introduction of MyFuelNT in November 2017 and stayed high, only decreasing by 2 cents per litre to 147 cents per litre in March.
“The NT Government brought out this petrol app last year and its made no difference and the main reason why is that we have a duopoly we have basically two companies, Puma and United, running fuel in the Darwin region and there’s only one independent that sells fuel cheaper,” said independent Member for Nelson Gerry Wood.