Federal MP Henry Pike says the Albanese government should follow the Coalition’s lead and lower the fuel excise to assist residents struggling with higher petrol prices during the “escalating” cost-of-living crisis.
Mr Pike said the Labor government must launch an intervention to bring market prices down after unleaded fuel hit a new record high of $2.37 per litre across the south-east last month.
Experts are keeping a close eye on the market, with the reserve bank flagging in its October meeting minutes that higher petrol prices and the recovering housing market – among other factors – shape as risks to the inflation outlook.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows automotive fuel climbed 13.9 per cent in the 12 months to August, with a 9.1 per cent increase for the month, while Brent crude oil is currently sitting at about $US92 per barrel.
Mr Pike said the federal government’s focus on the Voice referendum over the past 12 months had come at the expense of addressing the nation’s escalating cost-of-living crisis and it must now prioritise policies that “directly impact citizens’ wallets”.
He said reducing the fuel excise or applying a freeze on the twice-yearly indexation would provide immediate relief to households struggling with higher petrol prices.
RACQ principal policy advisor Dr Ian Jeffreys said another record high before the end of the year was not currently expected, but it remained a possibility given the uncertainty hanging over the market.
“The data that we are looking at today suggests that won’t be the case,” he said.
“But the world is a very unstable place at the moment and the conflict that we’re seeing in the Middle East and the conflict in Ukraine is evidence of that.”
While motorists will continue paying more than $2pl for fuel at the peak of the price cycle, Dr Jeffreys said the cheap phase would bring some relief with prices likely dropping back to the $1.80pl range.
“Any conflict causes oil market uncertainty and generally that pushes prices higher,” Dr Jeffreys said.
“At the moment, the conflict in the Middle East does not directly involve any oil producing nation, so there’s no impact on oil supply and production.
“It is mainly around market uncertainty and that effect on uncertainty pushing up oil prices.”
A federal government spokesman said the Albanese government had adopted a series of measures aimed at tackling cost-of-living pressures, such as cheaper childcare, increased rent assistance, discounted medicines and energy rebates.
“We’re making vital investments in the capacity of our economy, laying the foundations for future growth and our efforts to repair the budget are taking pressure off inflation when it is most acute,” he said.
“The fuel excise reduction ended in September last year – when the Liberals legislated it to end.
“We’ve found better ways to ease the cost-of-living for Australians, like energy rebates, cheaper childcare and a bit of extra help to pay the rent.”
RACQ’s eco-driving tips to get the most out of your tank of petrol
- Watch the road ahead and drive smoothly
- Brake and accelerate gently
- Use the right gear for the conditions
- Maintain a steady cruising speed on highways and use cruise control where appropriate.
- Keep your tyres at the maximum recommended inflation
- Service your car to the manufacturer’s schedule
- Remove excess weight and reduce aerodynamic drag
- Monitor your fuel use
- Don’t park and idle
- Minimise air-conditioner use
- Plan your trips to avoid congestion, combine trips and share rides
- Consider walking, cycling and public transport instead of driving