(Australian Associated Press)
Petrol prices in Australia’s major cities fell dramatically at the end of last year, in line with the international price of crude oil, the competition watchdog says.
The report released on Tuesday by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found that fuel prices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth closely tracks the price of refined petrol in the Asia-Pacific region, indicating a competitive market.
When the price of international crude oil crashed late last year, fuel prices in those cities dropped more than 40 cents a litre, to 119.2 cents, the cheapest prices since August 2017.
Petrol prices didn’t immediately fall as much in Canberra, Hobart or Darwin, or in other regional locations, but they have in January, the ACCC said.
“We will monitor prices closely in our smaller cities and regional areas and highlight where prices do not reflect the large fall in crude oil prices,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
The ACCC also found that weak retail competition in Darwin, Launceston, Armidale and Cairns that it had previously identified had continued.
Prices in those cities “remained above a long-term competitive cost-based price,” the ACCC found.
The problem got better in Darwin but worsened in the other three cities.
The ACCC recommended motorists in those cities to use fuel price websites and apps such as MotorMouth and GasBuddy to compare prices.
Overall the ACCC found that compared to other developed countries Australia’s retail petrol prices were relatively low.
Only three of the 34 developed OECD nations had cheaper prices.
The report found that Australia’s petrol prices are determined mostly by the price of refined fuel in the Asia-Pacific region and the strength of the Australian dollar.