Murwillumbah drivers poor cousins on fuel

THE price of petrol may be coming down in most places, but Murwillumbah motor- ists are fuming at fuel prices nearly 20 cents a litre higher than Tweed Heads.

Yesterday the cheapest price in town was 147.9 cents a litre for E-Gen (10 per cent ethanol) petrol compared to 134.9 cents a litre offered by several servos at Tweed Heads.

That station's operators Neumann Petroleum defended the price variation, pointing to the need not to upset the major fuel companies.

They also pointed out the difference in a NSW government fuel subsidy paid to service station operators in Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah as well as freight costs.

Because Murwillumbah is further from the Queensland border, where the Queensland government subsidises fuel by 8.35 cents a litre, operators receive a slightly lower subsidy of 6.68 cents a litre from the NSW government than their Tweed Heads competitors.

Stations further south receive even less.

"That's before GST, which adds a bit more to the difference," said executive general manager of Neumann Petroleum Charles Wright, whose firm operates fuel stations throughout Queensland and south to Newcastle, as well as its own bulk seaboard fuel terminal at Eagle Farm, Brisbane.

Mr Wright said the cost of freight also added about 0.6cents a litre to the Murwillumbah cost. But the biggest impact on the price at his company's Murwillumbah site, he said, was the need to stay close to the major operators Caltex and BP which run servos nearby.

"We try to keep just under the majors without them creating major issues for us," he said. "Otherwise they would typically try to make life difficult for us."

But Mr Wright also pointed out while the Neumann's station was usually around one cent a litre cheaper, it offered full driveway service "which is unique in Murwillumbah and which means we have more people to employ".

"We have a fairly nice looking Caltex just up the road and a BP further down which is looking good," he added. "So full driveway service was the best thing we could do."

Mr Wright said in setting its "board price" at Murwillumbah Neumann Petroleum tried to "offer the best pricing".

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