Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles has heralded a three cent per litre drop in a type of petrol sold at a Darwin service station as evidence his government’s efforts to reduce fuel prices are working.

Mr Giles on Thursday was at a United Petroleum fuel outlet in the city, which discounted the price of its 10 per cent ethanol petrol (E10) to 167.5 cents per litre.

“We are starting to put pressure on now and we are starting to see a change,” Mr Giles said.

“This will be a long-term change to get long-term price competitiveness in an elastic market,” he said.

Store manager Mandeep Singh confirmed the three cents per litre fall came at about 9:00am, under instructions from United’s head office.

“They told us to put it down, so we put it down,” he said.

A search of the MotorMouth website showed that at 5.15am (CST) the same type of fuel was for sale at 167.9 cents per litre at Ausfuel BP, a competitor in a nearby suburb. In Melbourne, the E10 fuel sold for as low as 135.7 cents per litre.

On Monday the NT held a fuel summit, which brought together representatives from Australia’s fuel market to explain why petrol prices in Darwin are consistently more than 20 cents per litre more expensive than in other capital cities.

Mr Giles has said he did not think the explanation was clear enough, and his government will push ahead with a fuel disclosure bill, forcing petrol stations to reveal the cost of different elements that make-up the price.

Some of the reasons offered by fuel companies were that the NT had too much red tape, customers that did not shop around and a high price of electricity, which was double the price of elsewhere.
‘First salvo’ in price war: Szymszak

United Petroleum chief operating officer David Szymszak said the words of Aboriginal leader Maurie Japarta Ryan at the fuel summit struck a cord with him.

“He wanted people to do something and act, rather than just sitting on their hands,” Mr Szymszak said.

“What we are going to do today is really start the first salvo in a price war,” he said.

United has not dropped the price of its unleaded petrol but Mr Szymszak said the company was “working on some other things at the moment” in that regard.

At the fuel summit Mr Ryan said fuel was up to $3 per litre in some parts of the outback.

“We pay more than you mob all put together, and we live on the dole, the basic card, trying to live and survive. Do something about it,” Mr Ryan told the summit.