Inequity at the fuel bowser has long been a bugbear in regional areas.
It doesn’t matter how closely the market is monitored, how many inquiries are called for and even held or the amount of political pressure applied.
The simple fact of the matter is that doesn’t seem to matter how much noise is about it – what you fork out in the bush is unjust compared with the situation in the big cities. And arguments put forward about the extra cost of transporting fuel to regional areas carries limited weight.
It might explain the price differential to a degree but clearly falls short when applied to the large gap in prices that often exists.
Certainly over the past few decades that difference often has been in the range of 10 cents a litre. This is a substantial gap that just cannot be justified.
People in the big smoke, especially the city-based politicians, probably don’t appreciate the degree to which this can create disadvantage.
Public transport often borders on non-existent, farmers have large distances to traverse to get their produce to market and often there is not a doctor or a public hospital close by.
That means higher fuel prices are not just an initial hit to your wallet or purse. Rather, it can create disadvantage as it can be more difficult to maintain good health, can create barriers to fulfilling academic potential and can sharply reduce margins for our creators of wealth – our farmers, our innovative regional businesses.
It can be seen on any trip from Dubbo to Sydney. The price can be 10 or 20 cents cheaper on the other side of the Blue Mountains, depending on the day of the week.
But then even a trip between neighbouring towns can reveal a difference of several cents per litre..
And unfortunately it looks like the situation could get worse in the lead up to Christmas as world oil prices continue to rise.
The NRMA has long been a defender of those who face pain every time they pull up at the petrol pump. They are again advising people to shop around and reward retailers who offer the best price.
It’s not new advice. Then again this is not a new argument.
But certainly it is one that needs to be given a serious look, otherwise it could be said that a genuine effort to remove inequities faced by regional motorists has not been made.