New hikes at petrol bowser

Brodie Bott

WHILE they don’t exactly think it’s a gas, gas, gas, North Coast business people are taking the upcoming hike in petrol prices philosophically.

Prices are expected to rise by up to six cents a litre in the next fortnight, partly as a result of the easing of the global financial crisis, which has led to an increase in global demand.

CommSec chief economist Craig James said the price Australian companies paid for their petrol had recently risen by six cents a litre to $1.18 – a four-month high – and that the rise would most likely be passed on to motorists in the coming days.

And while fuel-dependant businesses aren’t thrilled by any addition to their overheads, they say they’ll just have to take the pain.

Paul Moretti, who runs a van-based mobile coffee service, meeting the caffeine needs of about 50 Lismore businesses, says the rise would affect his bottom line, but that he would ‘just have to put up with it’.

“Fuel prices are fuel prices. What else are you going to do? You’re not going to change the Government’s mind,” he said.

“But if everyone in this country made a stand, and took some action, we might be able to do something about it.

“Without that people power, saying ‘we’re not going to pay it’, what do you do? We just have to accept it and let the oil barons and the rich people fill their pockets with money.”

In 2008, when prices soared to $1.70 and more, Mr Moretti said it did hurt his business, but ‘hopefully we won’t be back in that situation again for a while’.

Mr Moretti is about to buy a second van, but he said it would be diesel-powered. The increase in fuel prices would not stop him from expanding his business, he said, ‘not in a million years’.

“I have too many customers wanting coffee,” he said.

Kerry Thompson, owner of the Alstonville Florist, said: “Fuel prices are an external thing that I have no control over. I could choose to deliver less, but people order flowers for emotional reasons and you can’t ignore that. If someone wants me to deliver flowers, I deliver them. It’s an important part of the service we provide.”

Nor will she be passing the extra costs on to her customers. “I’ll just take the burden, and see if I can cut some costs in other areas to compensate.”

Prices given by the NRMA for Lismore yesterday were 122.6 for unleaded and 124.7 for diesel.

NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury said that the motoring organisation had long argued that Australia needed to end its dependence on foreign oil.

“Determined petrol price movements are not working in our favour. The longer we delay the development of alternative fuels in this country, the longer Australian motorists will be vulnerable to price movements in foreign markets,” he said.


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