Ballarat petrol prices go up - again

FUEL prices skyrocketed throughout Melbourne yesterday while motorists in Ballarat searched for petrol stations that hadn’t already joined in on the price hike.

 In Melbourne, prices leapt as high as $1.60 per litre for unleaded, while in Ballarat prices hovered around the $1.55 mark with the odd bargain ($1.40 at Woolworths/Caltex in Howitt Street) still being found after 4pm. 

The RACV said the sudden rise, in which some stations upped prices by 17 cents per litre, represented the biggest single increase since October last year.

The price hike caught motorists off guard and many were glad to be driving past stations in Ballarat which were yet to increase prices.

Alfredton man Russell Stone said he’d heard on the radio that prices were expected to go up as much as 20 cents per litre and quickly rushed to fill up.

“It’s just outrageous,” Mr Stone said.

“And it really hurts when you have two cars to fill up. 

“That’s more than $200 I’ll have to fork out.”

Another motorist said he was appalled by the “greedy” fuel hikes.

“To be honest it won’t be long before it hits $2,” the motorist said.

Those in the know also expressed their anger with the fuel companies. 

Independent fuel analyst David Cumming said the increases were based on weekly averages which were no longer an accurate representation of the market place.

“Price cycles are now much too irregular when it comes to fuel costs and it’s completely unfair on motorists,” Mr Cumming said. 

“Ultimately these latest price hikes come down to the greedy giants in Coles and Woolworths who yesterday both said they will continue to offer eight-cent discounts up until Easter.”

Mr Cumming said Coles and Woolworths simply upped prices in order to add in the eight cents margin which they have to get back.

“These eight-cent discounts have completely distorted petrol pricing,” he said. 

“In a normal cycle you may see prices increase eight to 10 cents per week, yet now they increase fuel by almost 20 cents just so they can build in that eight cents.” 

The high prices are sure to have a knock-on effect, with extra costs placed on transported goods including fruit and vegetables. 

Peaches Fruit Market owner Mark Petrie said it was a given that people would now feel the pinch, and not just at the petrol pump.

“When fuel prices go up, so do fruit and vegetable prices,” Mr Petrie said.

“Unfortunately that’s just life.”

patrick.byrne@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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