Aussie plan ‘fuel strike’ as prices soar
A PLANNED two-day boycott of service stations to protest record high fuel prices will be "not even a rounding error" to the industry, the NRMA says.
Around 85,000 people have said on Facebook they will take part in a "national fuel strike" starting on Friday, with another 77,000 indicating they are interested. Group organiser Sabrina Lamont has also started an online petition urging the federal government to cut fuel taxes.
Petrol prices in some parts of the country have hit 10-year highs off the back of higher global oil prices and a weaker Australian dollar, with motorists in some cities paying up to $1.65 per litre.
"A fair price should be a $1.15 if you do the calculation on a barrel price and compare the dollar price, and then take away the excise and GST. That is roughly what the price should be at," Ms Lamont the ABC.
"They are breaking the country's back with this. We are asking the whole nation not to enter a service station, a total boycott, whether independents or a major brand. Just do not buy fuel."
Mark McKenzie, chief executive of service station peak body the Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association (ACAPMA), said the $1.15 figure was wrong.
"I think what's happened is someone's done the sums around the oil price, the exchange rate and added the tax," he said. "The problem is we don't put oil in our cars, we put petrol. They've missed the refinery costs, we've also got to ship it (from Singapore), transport it to the site and retail it."
Mr McKenzie said at the current buy price for fuel in Queensland of $1.45, a service station selling fuel for $1.15 would be losing 30 cents per litre.
He said fuel retailers only added about 8-10 per cent of the final price, with the big driver of recent increases being a 44 per cent increase in global oil prices since June last year and a 10 per cent drop in the Aussie dollar.
"People are concerned about rising fuel prices, we get that, but the idea that you would punish local businesses here in Australia for decisions that are effectively out of their control is a little odd," he said.
NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury said the problem of a two-day strike was that some cities such as Adelaide were at the bottom of their cycle, meaning people who took part would miss the opportunity to get cheaper fuel.
"In cities like Canberra, Darwin and Hobart there's never a cycle, it's just always expensive, so at some point people need to fill up," he said.
Mr Khoury said even if all 160,000 people chose not to fill up, "that's not even a rounding error in terms of the overall size of the industry". "We completely understand the public's frustration," he said.
"These are record high prices, in some of these areas we haven't seen prices like this in 10 years. We get how difficult and frustrating it is, we are also acutely aware of the impact it's having on the economy because our economy runs on fuel."
But Mr Khoury said the price increases were due to global factors.
"We know oil prices have fallen so we should see some relief, 7-8 cents per litre in coming weeks, but it's such a volatile sector and things can change overnight," he said.
"We just don't know what's going to happen to world oil prices. The fact that the Saudis killed a journalist in their embassy in Turkey, the world's going to respond, what does that do to petrol prices?"
He said oil comes from "some of the most volatile parts of the world".
"We have zero control," he said. "Tensions between Russia, Iran and the US cause prices to increase. Saudi Arabia is the world's largest producer of oil, they're at war with their neighbour, now we've got this new incident."
Mr Khoury said there was plenty of data available to motorists to find the best price.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission tracks the fuel price cycle in every city, and a number of consumer apps are available to find the best deal near you, including the NRMA's MyNRMA and RACWA's RAC Go apps.
In the NSW and NT, retailers are required by law to report real-time price data, which is fed into the FuelCheck and MyFuelNT apps. The MotorMouth app uses national data supplied by industry body Informed Sources, while the GasBuddy app relies on crowdsourced data.
NSW introduced real-time data in 2016 while Queensland and South Australia are set to roll out trials later this year, but Mr Khoury said it should be a national policy.
"The most important thing is data is king here," he said.