Fuel prices are not regulated by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), but the watchdog says if it had evidence of prices resulting from anti-competitive conduct in breach of the law, it may take offenders to court.
A spokesperson says for example, if retailers agree on prices, “the ACCC would take this very seriously and take action”.
She says the ACCC does monitor the price of petrol in Alice Springs, and over the last three months petrol prices were on average around 10 cents per litre higher in Alice Springs compared to Darwin.
“The ACCC’s monitoring also shows that it is common to have price differences between different regional locations,” says the spokesperson.
“This is due to a range of factors, including the number of service stations (and therefore the level of local competition), the volume of fuel sold (lower volumes lead to higher costs per litre), the distance / location factors (there may be additional freight and storage costs associated with different country areas), convenience store sales (these may be important for some retailers in achieving adequate returns).
“The most significant factors that contribute to higher petrol prices in Alice Springs would be the additional distance fuel needs to be transported for sale in Alice Springs and the lower volume of fuel sales in Alice Springs.
“In Darwin there are around 50,000 registered petrol vehicles and 41 petrol retail sites compared to around 15,000 registered petrol vehicles and 14 petrol retail sites in Alice Springs.”