The weak Australian dollar has sent petrol prices soaring to an averaged four-year high recorded by the consumer watchdog in five of the countries’ largest cities.
Petrol pumpers were paying on average $141.2 cents per litre – adjusted for inflation – in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth in 2018 and 2019, according to this year’s Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s petroleum June quarter report.
This is nearly 7.0 cents per litre more than last year, with the exchange rate between the USD and the weak Aussie dollar the most significant factor effecting the price hike.
“This was the lowest annual average AUD-USD exchange rate in the last 15 years,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.
“The AUD-USD exchange rate is a significant determinant of Australia’s retail petrol prices because international refined petrol is bought and sold in US dollars in global markets.”
Following a new agreement between Coles and petrol partner Viva Energy in February this year, the ACCC found Viva set lower Coles Express fuel charges in most capital cities compared with market average prices.
However, all capital city prices remained above the market average.
Woolworths prices were also affected by the sale of its fuel operations to EG Group and were higher in most capital cities following the exchange but below market average for most cities.
Mr Sims said the ACCC would closely monitor prices at these retail sites.
For the first time since April 2012, Canberra recorded monthly average prices below that of the five largest cities.
This may have been influenced by greater regulation following a petrol inquiry in the ACT.
Similarly in Darwin the price for fuel has decreased since 2015 following closer scrutiny by the Northern Territory government.
The ACCC recommends shopping around before filling up at any given bowser, pointing to analysis of NSW’s Coffs Harbour region where a range of fuel prices were available.