As Australian dollar falls, fuel costs expected to rise in south-west

A SUBSTANTIAL drop in the Australian dollar is likely to push up petrol prices in the south-west, coinciding with the busy Christmas period.

Unleaded petrol was being sold in Warrnambool for $1.52 a litre yesterday, five to 10 cents higher than the Melbourne average, although roughly the same as the Geelong retail price.

The Australian dollar hit a three-year low last week, dropping rapidly from parity with the American greenback in matter of weeks to the US 88-cent mark.

Fuel analysts say a dip in the national currency’s value is likely to lead to higher petrol prices, with Australia buffeted by rising oil prices over the past few years due to the exchange rate.

United Dairyfarmers Victoria president Kerry Callow said while rising fuel prices would target agricultural hip pockets, the projected price rise was in line to hit at a reasonably opportune time.

“Harvest season is over for most farmers in the Western District so if there is a price rise, it shouldn’t hurt too much,” she said.

“Obviously, big consumers of fuel will be hit hardest and those who have large irrigation installations. But on the whole, it shouldn’t have too much of an impact if it only rises by a few cents.”

Fuel watchdog RACV reported Portland’s unleaded price at $1.51 a litre yesterday,  while Hamilton service stations were selling fuel at $1.56 a litre.

RACV fuel spokesman Michael Case said the price difference between Melbourne and south-west Victoria had narrowed in the past week, although city motorists still had the economic upper hand.

“It’s not always the case that Warrnambool is more expensive than Melbourne but that appears to be the trend for the time being,” he said.

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