Petrol stations that refuse to account for falling fuel prices are putting Australian drivers through the wringer, in a damning claim backed by data by the Federal Treasurer.
In an exclusive interview with 7NEWS, Jim Chalmers pointed the finger directly at the oil companies for Australia’s persistently high bowser prices and called on them to freeze profits.
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“Gas stations are notorious for raising prices when the international price is more expensive,” he said.
“They have to pass on the savings as well.”
“Don’t treat your customers like mugs. People are under desperate pressure from the cost of living. We need to see those savings passed on.
“They need to be explained so that customers have the confidence that they are getting those savings passed on.”
Treasurer claims appear to be piling up, according to FuelTrac data provided to 7NEWS.com.au.
While the national average terminal (wholesale) price fell to 179.4 cents per liter for unleaded gasoline in the week ending July 17, the pump price remained at a weekly average of 204.1 cents per liter.
In the previous week, the terminal price for unleaded fuel was 196.9 cents per litre, while the retail pump price was 212.1 cents per liter on national average.
A comparison of the two weeks shows that gasoline retailers are slow to respond to lower bowser prices as the wholesale price declines.
“Oil prices globally have been falling quite consistently now,” NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury said.
“Companies are holding these margins and they need to stop, these prices need to come down.”
The federal government has the option of calling on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to take action against the oil companies.
However, Chalmers ruled out extending the fuel tax cut beyond September, saying it was too difficult and too expensive to continue.
“There’s a closer and faster way to get gas price relief, and that’s for servo systems to pass on those savings,” he said.
The Treasurer’s call came after a new report showed rising profit levels among Australia’s corporate sector were one of the key reasons behind rising inflation rates across the country.
Research by the Australia Institute has revealed that rising profit levels among companies, not rising wages for workers, have contributed to rising inflation rates.
The report found that wages did not contribute to inflation in Australia in the 2019/20 or 2020/21 financial years.
In the last financial year, wages were up just 0.6 percentage points from 4.1 per cent.
Inflation is currently at 5.1 percent, the highest level in 20 years, with the rate expected to rise to 7 percent.
Australia Institute chief economist Richard Dennis said despite concerns from employers and business groups that higher wages would contribute to rising costs, the data showed rising earnings were a major driver of inflation.
“The national accounts show that rising earnings, not rising costs, are driving inflation in Australia,” he said.
“While workers are being asked to make sacrifices in the name of controlling inflation, the data clearly shows that it is the corporate sector that needs to tighten its belt.”
“A lack of competition, not a shortage of skilled labor, is driving up the cost of living in Australia.”
The report said rising profits among businesses were the dominant factor amid rising inflation rates.
“Increasing prices in line with or above rising costs is a choice to maintain or increase profit margins in Australia, even though the profit share of GDP is near record highs,” the report said.
“It is clear that competition policy and other policies designed to control prices play an important role in Australia.”
– With AAP