Coffs Harbour has been named among 28 Australian centres where fuel prices indicate market manipulation by major fuel companies.
Coffs Harbour has been named among 28 Australian centres where fuel prices indicate market manipulation by major fuel companies. Trevor Veale

Coffs Harbour cops the worst of fuel price ripoffs

COFFS Harbour has been proven to be one of the nation's worst "rip off zones'' when it comes to petrol prices.

University research comparing bowser prices in more than 100 centres over five years has identified Coffs Harbour as one of 28 Australian locations where petrol companies manipulate the market to maximise profits.

Profiteering off some of the country's tightest family budgets, petrol companies are getting away with virtual highway robbery operating completely unchecked by the taxpayer-funded consumer watchdog.

In evidence to the ACCC, the University of New England's Professor of Macroeconomics Abbas Valadkhani has collected statistics showing petrol prices are quick to rise in markets like Coffs Harbour, but rarely fall in line with other regional markets.

That trend happened again this week as prices fell in other regional centres, but not on the Coffs Coast.

"By identifying the locations in which asymmetric pricing is more prevalent, this paper can lead to the greater efficiency and transparency of the petrol market particularly in view of recent debates surrounding suspected profiteering in the petrol industry," Prof Valadkhani said.

UNE Professor Abbas Valadkhani has compiled five years worth of petrol prices for 111 Australian centres including Coffs Harbour.
UNE Professor Abbas Valadkhani has compiled five years worth of petrol prices for 111 Australian centres including Coffs Harbour.

His research published in the latest edition of international journal Energy Economics analyses five years of data and highlights suspicious fuel price trends in 28 of 111 nationwide locations.

Eight of the 28 centres are in NSW and include Coffs Harbour, Broken Hill, Casino, Cooma, Dubbo, Forster, Newcastle and Port Macquarie.

The research, funded by the Federal Government's Australian Research Council Discovery Project, examined fuel price variations between 2007 and 2012 and substantiate claims of collusion in the Coffs Harbour market.

The NRMA says the latest average unleaded price is 152.1 in Coffs Harbour, 146.4 in Kempsey, 142.6 in Grafton and 130.3 in Sydney.

It says the best way to force prices down is to boycott the majors and support the best priced local servos.

Advocate readers say cheap fuel can be found at Sapphire, the Jetty, Mullaway and Halfway Creek.



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