Frustrating fuel prices driving locals up the road

Ararat’s fuel prices have been infuriating locals, causing many to head elsewhere to fill up. Price comparisons to other towns within our region are not making sense and service station chains offer little to no answer.

Currently, Ararat is paying between 149.9 and 152.9 for Unleaded 91, whilst the price in Ballarat is as low as $128.9. Great Western, just 15 minutes up the highway, is six cents cheaper.

“They are clearly higher than some of the regional areas, both ones you might expect like Ballarat, but one perhaps you wouldn’t expect like Great Western,” said Member for Ripon, Louise Staley.

“What it does come down to, though, I think, is how competitive markets work. Sometimes they do a great job, and I think what we’re seeing in Ararat at the moment is probably the fuel brand that is deeply discounting in Ballarat is not here.”

On July 4 Melbourne’s average fuel price plummeted from $1.58, continuing to decrease until July 19 when it was $1.30. Ararat’s didn’t budge.

Ararat’s Mayor Peter Beales told AC News: “Communities within a hundred kilometres of us have their prices going up and down but ours stays at the same level as the highest point of our neighbours. Consistent pricing is the key and we are not being treated in the same way.”

Lousie Staley agreed that the high fuel prices would affect Ararat’s economy, but with possible benefits for the community.

“That is one of the things that will drive down the price here over time. I’m sure they get their stats into their head office… and as they see a reduction in fuel sales, they’ll know why it is – it’s not that we’re not buying fuel, it’s that we’re buying it somewhere else.”

“We are likely to see constant price changes but I share the people of Ararat’s frustration. It is clear that prices are cheaper not very far away.”

AC News has contacted the service station chains in Ararat. All said that they don’t get a say on prices – directions come from their head offices. The ACCC would also not comment.

“While I am always keen that people should shop locally, they should not be doing so at the cost to their personal budget when it’s not – could I say in this case – a local business,” Staley said.

“Ararat residents shouldn’t have to wear the fact that we don’t have a price war here. Take advantage of it somewhere else; it will drive prices down here.”

Leaving town may not be the only answer. A new service station is being constructed on the corner of Moore Street and the Pyrenees Highway, opposite IGA. AC News understands it will be privately owned which may instigate lower prices.

For the moment, heading down the highway to Beaufort or Great Western might be the best option.