Petrol backflip

By Shane Wright

The federal government yesterday dumped a planned petrol excise hike but Tweed motorists still paid 125.9 cents per litre for their fuel.

And that's a drop from 129.9 at some service stations over the weekend.

The government's backdown is seen as recognition that the oil-price crisis is hitting hard for businesses and families.

The 0.06 cent-a-litre increase in petrol excise ? decided on two years ago and due to start from January 1 ? will now come out of general revenue and is believed will save motorists from paying an extra four cents a tank for fuel.

However on the Tweed, Murwillumbah and upper valley motorists are paying at least eight cents a litre more than their lower Tweed counterparts.

They must weigh up the costs of travelling the distance to Tweed Heads to fill up or put the higher price and reduce their travelling.

Admittedly the Tweed is one of the more fortunate areas in NSW, enjoying a NSW subsidy, which reduces the further south motorists head.

On the border, it equates to 8.35 cents per litre while south of Chinderah, that figure is 6.68 cents per litre.

Prices experienced in Murwillumbah are still less than those in Lismore where the cheapest petrol is 125.9 with average prices around 128.9.

The government's planned increase was to cover the cost to oil companies of introducing low sulphur fuel to reduce the health risks from petrol.

But following a public outcry, it decided that taxpayers in general would absorb the expected $70 million cost of the move.

The excise on diesel fuel is planned to go up 0.7 cents a litre from January 1, 2007, but Mr Costello said that decision is also under review.

Despite the move, it appears motorists will have to face even higher petrol prices after the cost of a barrel of crude oil jumped $US4 overnight, amid concerns over a new storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico.



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