Soaring fuel prices put new squeeze on budgets

WITH petrol prices jumping a steep 14 cents overnight on the Tweed, father-of-four Brett Vaughan can do little but wait for more bad news. The self-employed businessman, who runs a Tweed lawn-mowing company, said he was bracing himself in expectation of increased fuel costs. Yesterday, in just 24-hours, unleaded petrol%prices jumped from 124.9 cents to a whopping 138.9 cents at most service stations on the Tweed. This comes in the wake of earlier predictions by Caltex that fuel prices could soar to more than $3 a litre in the next decade. Mr Vaughan said the increase was already chewing into his profits. "I have five pieces of machinery including a ride-on-mower and a leaf-blower that run on unleaded%petrol," Mr Vaughan said. "At the moment I am spending $80 a week on both petrol and diesel. "With the increase it could go up to $100." A home-owner with a mortgage, he said the fuel hike, combined with the rise in interest rates, was really hurting families. "It is a double blow," Mr Vaughan said. "But you can only wait for the bad news to keep coming." But unlike some motor- ists, Mr Vaughan said he was disinclined to travel for miles looking for cheap fuel. "I look around for a (competitive) price, but if I need it and the bowser is next door I get it, even if it is dearer," he said. "It is not worth the time and effort to drive around." A NRMA spokesman said there was no justifiable reason for yesterday's substantial increase in prices. "Unfortunately 14-cent jumps are not uncommon around the weekend just as families begin to fill up their cars," he said. "No-one can explain why it happens." He urged Tweed residents to approach their local member to lobby the federal government to catch and punish rogue oil companies.



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