'We are still being ripped off'

Tasmania is still being ripped off for many things, including petrol prices, claimed Labor leader Bryan Green on Tasmania Talks with Brian Carlton yesterday.

“Right at the moment we are paying on average 17 cents more than our mainland counterpart and that is taking into consideration of the cost of actually bringing the fuel here," he said.

Mr Green said that is not fair.

"If it does cost a bit of money, I think most Tasmanians would say that’s worthwhile,” he said.

Mr Green also suggested hiring someone as a government oversight to keep the price of commodities transparent.

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75 million dollars out of pockets into petrol stations

Millions of dollars have been directed to petrol station profitability due to the influx in fuel prices in Launceston.

"In economic terms, when we ran the mass...we came to the conclusion that 75 million dollars of money was leaving the state just encapsulated in the premium that was being charged for oil," Mr Holder claimed on Tasmania Talks with Brian Carlton today.

"Throwing that sort of money away is unacceptable," he said. 

Mr Holder also suggested the most effective solution is competitive pricing.

"Unless there is that lightning rod of competition, it just won't happen," he added.

Tasmanian Broadcasters launched a statewide radio campaign to actively put an end to fuel price gouging in Tasmania.

RACT and United Petroleum's 8 cent a litre discount initiative seemed to have had effect on pricing compared to the mainland, but there is still a way to go.

"It proves you only need one brand to actually do the job," Mr Holder said.

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Fuelled with rage as waiting game begins

It will be months before the fuel companies will respond to a report released by ACCC, confirming Launceston's fuel prices are 4 cents higher than on the mainland.

Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Rod Sims claims the solution to decreasing petrol prices is not by adding more retailers on the ground.

"Having more sights doesn't solve the problem necessarily," Mr Sims said on Tasmania Talks with Brian Carlton today.

He has claimed it is a double edge sword between finding extra costs to cater for more retailers to open against the low throughput of production.

The best way of encouraging fuel companies to reduce the four cent inflation is through added pressure of seeking lower prices elsewhere.

"One of these apps coming about...are important because consumers can see where the lowest prices are," Mr Sims said.

More apps are soon to be released, but the main app already available on the market, Motormouth, seeks the best nearby prices and is updated every 15 minutes.

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"We need a fair price on fuel"

The Chamber of Commerce is up in arms over a report released by the ACCC, which states Launceston petrol prices are four cents higher than on the mainland.

Executive officer Jan Davis said petrol pricing only adds to the pressures of living, with Tasmania being one of the lowest income earners in Australia. 

"Every dollar that they spend unnecessarily on something like gauging prices for fuel is a dollar that doesn't get either to something that delivers benefit directly to their family or to circulate amongst small businesses. So not only do we have those cost imposts, we have market price sensitivity that really makes things tough all round," Ms Davis said on Tasmania Talks with Brian Carlton today.

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Tassie's petrol win

The ACCC believes people power has won the day in putting a lid on unfair petrol prices in Tasmania.

A "deep dive" investigation in Launceston, carried out by the competition watchdog, found retailers were raking in extra margins of between 4 and 5 cents a litre thanks to an uncompetitive market.

ACCC Chairman Rob Simms, talking on Tasmania Talks with Brian Carlton today, says RACT/United discounting prodded the market into doing the right thing.

"It has triggered a competitive response," he said. 

"The combination of the RACT's leverage - the volume it can bring to United - has forced the others to respond, and so right now Launceston prices are actually pretty good compared to the mainland cities."

The report also found that the supermarket giants have been sluggish in initiating competition, preferring to let others take the lead. 

The RACT's Darren Moody has told Tasmania Talks Woolies and Coles have 56 per cent of Launceston's market share, despite holding only a quarter of its outlets.

He says cunning buyups of CBD property have led to the near-domination of the market. 

"They also buy very high-profile sites around the CBD, high-traffic volume sites around the CBD, so they've strategically set up their business to drive that higher volume."

A petition on our Fair Go for Fuel website garnered more than 7000 signatures before the ACCC announced Launceston as the site of its probe. 

LAFM General Manager Phil McCulloch is glad retailers sat up and took notice. 

"It's certainly a win for the people, both of Launceston and Tasmania," he said. 

"It's something that affects the whole community, and if they're paying a whole lot more than people on mainland Australia, they've certainly got less to run their households."

Fairer Go For Fuel

Along with Tasmanian Broadcasters' Fair Go For Fuel campaign, the RACT and United Petroleum's 8 cent a litre discount initiative seems to have finally broken the back of years of inexplicably high fuel prices in Tasmania.

The major supermarkets responded with a matched offer, but even with discounts aside, fuel prices are now much closer to mainland levels.

RACT's Darren Moody feels that currently, we're getting a pretty good deal.

"The overall general market, we're actually seeing Tasmanian prices on average at $1.17 a litre which is very competitive in the national frame at the moment."

Meantime, state's motoring body is echoing calls for uniformity in petrol price boards.

Frustrated motorists complain there's no way to compare the full price and discount price when stations choose to display one or the other - sometimes on the same street.

The RACT is demanding full disclosure on boards, including the cost of pricey alternatives like premium fuels.

South Australia and New South Wales have already banned the display of discounted prices that aren't available for all motorists.