Petrol prices at their lowest levels in real terms since 2001-2002, according to a new report from the ACCC.

But it seems the benefits aren’t being pushed down to consumers, with retail margins remaining high over the same period.

This comes despite quarterly average petrol prices within Australia’s largest five cites dropping by 3.9 cents per litre (cpl) from the March quarter to 125.2 cpl.

“While motorists are enjoying the cheapest petrol since 2002, we believe prices should have been even lower given the continuing high gross retail margins,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

Chart – Annual average retail petrol prices in the five largest cities in nominal and real terms: 2000-01 to 2016-17

Gross retail margins in Melbourne (12.3 cpl) and Perth (12.0 cpl) were at their highest in real terms since 2002, while those in regional areas were also affected with high margins on their fuel prices.

The ACCC has been studying the long term petrol markets in four regional markets of Darwin, Launceston, Armidale and Cairns, with results suggesting three out of the four markets remained unsatisfactory.

“Motorists in Launceston, Armidale, and Cairns are paying too much for petrol. We encourage people to use fuel price apps to locate petrol stations in their area with relatively lower prices,” Mr Sims said.

“The ACCC will continue to monitor fuel prices in all these regional towns in its quarterly petrol reports.”

The rate of international crude oil and refined petrol prices decreased in the month of June, but it remains to be seen whether the benefit will be passed on to consumers at the pump.

“Competition is driven by the willingness of motorists to shop around for the best price,” Mr Sims said.

“For example, in Cairns, motorists that shop around can find petrol that is consistently around 10 cpl lower than the average.”

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