Soaring fuel prices another stress for struggling regional families: Vinnies WA

Michael RobertsGeraldton Guardian
Fuel prices hit new heights across the State this week.
Camera IconFuel prices hit new heights across the State this week. Credit: Michael Roberts/The Geraldton Guardian

Record-high petrol prices are predicted to keep rising as a WA charity group warns struggling regional families will bear the brunt of the financial pain.

The price of fuel in country areas has gone up about 40¢ in the past year, according to FuelWatch. The price of unleaded petrol averaged just under 160¢ in major regional centres last week.

Perth metro prices hit a record high on Wednesday, averaging 178.1¢ per litre.

FuelWatch showed the price of a litre of unleaded petrol ranging from 155.8¢ to 170.8¢ in Geraldton yesterday.

FuelWatch co-ordinator Kyle Huynh said analysts expected the wholesale price to increase over the next couple of weeks.

“We’ve seen some major price increases over the past six months,” he said.

“The price of crude oil is skyrocketing across the world.

“When prices go up, metro prices go up first and regional prices take up to four weeks to follow.”

While Perth petrol stations have switched to a “cheap day” every two weeks, no such sales tactic exists in Geraldton.

Fuel prices were as high as 170 cents per litre in Geraldton this week.
Camera IconFuel prices were as high as 170 cents per litre in Geraldton this week. Credit: Michael Roberts/The Geraldton Guardian

Mr Huynh said there wasn’t enough competition in country areas to allow for a “cheap day”.

“It’s not profitable and they can’t do it — there aren’t enough major brands in the area,” he said.

“Country fuel prices are generally higher due to higher wholesale prices, lower sales volumes and the level of local competition is lower.

“Tuesday is the cheapest day in Perth but it’s now occurring every two weeks.

“We’ve still got it good compared to the other major capitals — their cycles, it can drag out to seven to nine weeks.”

The price hikes are bad news for WA families already struggling with the end of the rental moratorium and the freeze on household fees and charges, according to Vinnies WA.

Community Engagement Services executive manager Andrew York said Geraldton was one of the regional centres where Vinnies had seen the biggest increase in demand for emergency assistance.

“Another hike in fuel prices will put even more pressure on struggling families, particularly in regional WA,” he said.

“Their incomes simply can’t absorb the increase in costs.”

Volunteers report that people are struggling to pay for enough petrol to drive to Vinnies for help.

“When fuel prices go up, we often observe that it really affects how far people can travel,” Mr York said.

“This is particularly tough in the regions, where people will need to travel further to access services.”

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