Tourist complains about LPG Autogas price: town lobbies don't seem to give a hoot


UPDATE Saturday Aug 4 at 09:40am
The Alice Springs News Online has received information from a fuel retailer which seems to contradict assertions that it are the service stations which are “ripping off” the public.
The retailer, who spoke to us on the condition of not being named, this week bought diesel for about $1.50 a liter (he gave us the exact figure). To calculate his retail price he needs to deduct the GST, add his 8 cent mark-up and apply GST to that price which finishes up around $1.58. Despite sharp drops in the benchmark price of fuel, the bowser price in Alice Springs has not decreased significantly. As the mark-up applied by our source is reasonable by national standards, this raises the question whether others in the supply chain are over-charging.
So far the industry has been stonewalling inquiries from the  Alice Springs News Online.
UPDATE Friday Aug 3 at 11:30am
Alice Springs fuel retailers are continuing to line their pockets with record margins, showing no concerns for the public by failing to pass on available savings.
This is the view of Edon Bell, the General Manager of the Automobile Association of the NT which has more than 20,000 members.
He says the benchmark price for LPG Autogas has dropped from 61c on April 1 to about 33c at the beginning of this month.
To charge 109.9c a liter this week is “once again ripping off the public,” he says.
“Fuel is not a luxury item in the NT. It’s something everybody has to buy. We have no choice.
“But nobody puts any pressure on the retailers who clearly have only their own interests in mind.”
POSTED Thursday Aug 2 at 11:46am
Are our high and mighty aware of the NT election in three weeks’ time?
It doesn’t appear so. Let’s take it from the top.
Alice Springs tourist industry has slumped 40% (holiday makers) and 50% (backpackers) in the past 10 years.
One sector still buoyant and prospective are the 4WD enthusiasts and the grey nomads, many of whom have dual-fuel vehicles, namely gas and petrol.
On July 24 visitor Jason Trevers, from Adelaide, wrote to the Alice Springs News Online, aghast that LPG Autogas in Alice should cost twice as much as in Adelaide. You heard right: double the price. 100% more.
He responded in the comment box below our report of June 27 which was about the owners of service stations in Alice Springs who do not pass on savings to their clients when the price of petrol goes down.
We emailed last Thursday the three valiant defenders of our town, the knights in shining armor, the Alice’s principal lobbies, those who can make governments shake in their boots, namely the Town Council (via Mayor Damien Ryan), the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Central Australia.
We asked them: What will you do about this?
By Monday we had heard nothing from any of them, so we emailed a reminder.
Today is Thursday and we have still have had no response to our question.
It seems a complaint from a visitor to our town, Mr Trevers, is of no importance to these organisations.
We did a spot check in Adelaide:  A Liberty servo in Pooraka and a BP one in Plympton sell LPG Autogas for 55.9 cents a liter.
The Caltex service station on the North Stuart Highway on Tuesday charged 109.9 cents (photo).
We have asked the servo’s manager to comment. We will report his comments if and when we get it.
None of the Alice Springs servos’ owners had responded to our invitation to comment about our June 27 article.
Our tourism industry is hanging by a thread, which is principally the self drive market.
These people have an excellent network, via UHF, email, websites and face to face, are constantly on the lookout for opportunities – as well as reasons not to go to places that treat them with contempt.
Over to you, leaders of the town.


  1. Well said Erwin, but I am expecting that the response you may get from from owners is the time honoured “transport costs, remoteness blah, blah, blah”. Makes me wonder sometimes why I came back? Wasn’t for the price of fuel though – could have done without that!

  2. I think everything is relative in Central Australia. Why have a go at Alice Springs independents? Has anyone been to Kings Canyon, Yulara, Erldunda and Marla recently? These are closer to Adelaide and charge on average close to $2 per litre … Shell sites. Need I say more?
    Support your local independents like the Mobil Larapinta, Mobil Sadadeen and Caltex Indervon. Recently I won free fuel Friday at Caltex on the Stuart Hwy. Good to see someone is giving something back.
    I think boycotting Woolies and Coles should start at the supermarket level. Again, supporting local retailers is the way to go. Remember, locally owned companies support community sporting clubs and events. Have Coles or Woolies done anything for locals lately?

  3. A friend of ours is an LPG tanker driver and he informed me that it was over 90cpl to get LPG to Central Australia. He also told me that the government as of the 1st of July takes 5cpl excise on this product. (Don’t forget GST on top of this) Taxes, Taxes, Taxes. On this maths, I don’t know how the independents sell any LPG and stay viable.
    I think Edon Bell and this online editorial should get their facts right before getting up on it’s soap box and trying to political point score.
    [ED – Many thanks for your comment, Jimbo. Every time we try to get comment or information from the local fuel industry we run into a brick wall. Please put us in touch with your tanker driver friend. And next time you fill up, ask the servo people to return our phone calls. That’s part of us getting the facts right.]

  4. Jimbo –
    can you explain why it costs so much more to transport a litre of LPG than it does to transport a litre of petrol?
    Note that LPG weighs only about 540kg per 1,000 litres, whereas petrol weighs approx 710kg per 1,000 litres, so it should take less fuel to shift a litre of LPG than petrol!
    And I’m sure it costs far less than 90cpl to bring the petrol here!

  5. Re 90c a litre to transport LPG to central Australia. A triple road train (3 tanks) holds a total of 122,500 litres. So to cost 90c a litre to transport would mean that each trip would have to cost $110,250.

  6. Ah the Alice, no wonder I left, the best sight was in the rear view mirror as I drove out never to come back. Such a shame, I loved the town growing up and have fond memories, it is a shame it is being destroyed from so many angles in so many ways.

  7. Hey. Try Cooktown. I paid 162.5c per liter a week ago. Same price as unleaded. Explain that. Freight?

  8. I feel sorry for you people who installed LPG only to find you are getting ripped off.
    In Sydney here the price has jumped 12 cents a litre to 86.9 and slowly rising. We are getting ripped off as well.


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