John Squires, the joint owner of the Park Beach Mini Mart and service station, says independent service station operators have
John Squires, the joint owner of the Park Beach Mini Mart and service station, says independent service station operators have

Motorists say fuel prices a rip off



PETROL goes down in the city and stays up in the bush.

Pump prices in Coffs Harbour drop 0.8c per litre while Sydney prices drop 7c a litre.

The story is familiar but the relentlessly high price of fuel is leaving an increasingly bitter taste in the mouths of Coffs Coast motorists.

In the week ending last Sunday, the average price of a litre of ULP in Sydney was 110.6c; the State average was 113.4c, the regional average was 118.6 and the Coffs Harbour average was 121.2c.

In the same week the price was 113c in Grafton but 123.3c in Port Macquarie.

Coffs Harbour motorist Garry Perrin says motorists are being ripped off by the fuel companies who control the prices.

"The poor old servos don't have much say," Mr Perrin said.

"The fuel price drips down 1c, 1c, then it tears up 8c as soon as the oil barrel price rises. I went down to Taree yestereday and the prices were the same all the way down. I think the Service Station Associations should get all the service stations going on this."

John Squires and John Keelan, who operate the Park Beach Mini Mart and service station, which sells BP Reliance fuel, said they simply added their small mark-up to the price charged to them by oil company middlemen for the fuel and distribution.

They said their fuel freight prices were fixed and did not reduce when the price of petrol fell, but the terminal gate price (at the refinery) was still over $1 a litre.

John Squires said the equalisation rebate for fuel sold by service stations near the Queensland border cut out at Halfway Creek, so fuel was always at least 3c a litre cheaper in Grafton.

Mark O'Toole, who lives in Nelson Bay and works throughout country NSW said yesterday he had noticed that country fuel prices were always dearer in centres which were 'halfway points' on major highways -where motorists generally refuelled on long trips.

He identified Coffs Harbour, Coonabarabran (119.9c) and Narrabri (123.3c) among this group, adding that ULP was often noticeably cheaper just outside these towns.

The NSW Minister for Regional Development David Campbell has attacked NSW Nationals leader Andrew Stoner for not supporting the NSW Labor government in lobbying the Federal Government to give the ACCC teeth to investigate pricing.

He said the time lag in passing on savings when the price fell was an insult to country families, especially those battling drought.

ANZ Economics says a 12c a litre increase in the price of petrol costs households the same as a 0.25 per cent interest rate rise.



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