MOTORISTS are being slugged with rises of up to 30 cents a litre for LPG at service stations around the south-west.
Figures from the RACV show the average price for gas in Warrnambool has jumped from around 68 cents a litre in August to 95 cents in the new year.
Portland drivers are paying the most at the pump. Prices there this month are hovering just below a dollar a litre after spiking from roughly 76 cents in August. In Hamilton, drivers are paying up to 90 cents while there have also been sightings of bowsers breaking the dollar barrier.
The RACV argues there is little excuse for prices to be high since most of the country’s LPG is produced locally.
“Victorians driving LPG-powered vehicles have been paying up to 113.1 cents per litre in regional Victoria and 95.9 cents per litre in Melbourne after the commodity price jumped at the start of December,” RACV’s vehicle engineering manager Michael Case said.
“The wholesale prices have now dropped and RACV would expect to see a decrease at the pump of at least six cents per litre.
“While we have seen some decreases in a few regional towns, fuel retailers need to do the right thing by Victorian motorists and quickly pass on these savings.” Warrnambool’s APCO service station director Peter Anderson said prices were set by major gas producers.
“It’s daylight robbery. We have to pass those costs on and there’s nothing we can do about it,” Mr Anderson said.
High Australian gas prices are often attributed to the market price set in Saudi Arabia — despite the fact most gas used in Australia is produced in places such as the Bass Strait. Mr Anderson called on the federal government to step in, saying he struggled to understand how the price of LPG jumped 15 cents on December 15.
“I can’t understand how gas can come out of the ground and cost 15 cents more than it did yesterday.”
He said Canberra could enact measures such as reducing the GST on gas to soften the cost.
“It’s cleaner burning fuel. It’s under-marketed and the industry is struggling.”
He warned that the freezing northern hemisphere winter was likely to bump up the price even further as demand for energy strengthened.
Businesses offering gas conversions have also felt the pinch.
Warrnambool Radiators owner Robert Webster said conversions had “totally dropped off”.
“We’re not even getting any inquiries on the phone. We’ve had absolutely no gas conversions at all,” Mr Webster said.
“Gas needs to be half the price of petrol for drivers to be saving money. You use 30 per cent more gas per kilometre.
“If petrol is $1.50 a litre then gas needs to be 75 cents, but even that is too much.”
There are signs that LPG has also topped $1/litre around the south-west.
Mr Webster said he had recently seen prices as high as $1.03 in Heywood.
The federal government has a $1000 rebate on conversions, which can cost as much as $3500 for new cars and $2500 for models manufactured before 2003.
It will decide later this year whether to continue with rebate.
Mr Webster said conversion businesses still had to pay a $700 licence regardless of whether they picked up business.