Gas Week

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Queensland Treasury fuel subsidy task force wonders why Atherton – 100 km from fuel port of Cairns – sells petrol 0.74c a litre cheaper than Cairns

Posted by gasweek on 12 October, 2007

Queensland’s then Deputy Premier Anna M. Bligh explained the draft terms of reference of the Queensland Treasury fuel subsidy task force to Parliament.

Consideration required: In relation to a requirement to consider the finding of the Queensland Treasury fuel subsidy task force, the commission was:

• required to assess whether there were any greater impediments to the delivery of the fuel subsidy in regional Queensland; and,

• in light of any of those findings, whether there were more effective methods by which the fuel subsidy can be delivered in regional Queensland.

Some interesting anomalies: The Treasury submission to the ACCC outlined “some interesting anomalies in relation to prices of petrol in regional Queensland. I think it is commonly understood that where a retailer is some way from the fuel source – the fuel port – that may in fact lead to higher prices. In fact, what has shown up is very wide discrepancies.”

The Atherton example: “For example, Atherton, which was nearly 100 kilometres from the fuel port of Cairns, in the last six months has in fact had petrol averaging 0.74c a litre cheaper than Cairns. So I think the people of Cairns can rightfully ask what might be happening there.”

The Gympie example: Gympie was 160 kilometres north of its fuel source port – that is, Brisbane – but on average it had fuel 0.45c a litre cheaper than Brisbane.

Queenslanders entitled to ask why: Bligh said: “Of course I have no issue with the people of Gympie or Atherton getting cheaper petrol than Brisbane or Cairns, but Queenslanders are entitled to question what those variations might be based on.”

The Bowen example: In contrast to this, Bowen, which is 190 kilometres from its fuel port of Mackay, for the last six months had seen an average of fuel at 5c a litre dearer than in Mackay.

The Charters Towers example: Similarly, Charters Towers, which was 134 kilometres from its port of Townsville, was 6.22c a litre higher over the same period than Townsville, while Emerald, which was 370 kilometres from its port of Gladstone, averaged 1.5c a litre dearer.

Bligh tries to join the dots: “So there does not seem to be anything that joins the dots between how far you are away from the fuel port and the cost of the petrol. That does raise questions and I think there are many people in regional Queensland – they certainly raise it with me and I know they raise it with local members – wanting to know what drives the fuel prices in their region. I conclude by again reassuring all members that this inquiry is dedicated to identifying any impediments to the full transfer of the fuel subsidy into the pockets of Queensland motorists, and I would hope it gets bipartisan support.”

Reference: Anna M. Bligh, Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Infrastructure, Member for South Brisbane ALP, First Session of the Fifty-Second Parliament, Queensland

Erisk Net, 23/8/2007

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