Does anyone else remember those heady days when petrol was $1 a litre.
It doesn't seem that long ago - 2015/16 from memory - and even that felt expensive.
And it was only two years ago a crash in global oil prices saw the average cost of a litre in NSW fall back to around that $1 mark as well.
Now those numbers ticking over at our preferred fill-up point have reached and surpassed the 200cpl mark with no indication of when they might slow down.
It's a significant hit to a household budget, not just in the weekly fill-up of the family car but the expected rising price of groceries and other essential items when freight companies pass on their own increased fuel costs.
There's been much chatter about how our government should work to lower the cost of fuel to support struggling families and businesses.
To be fair though there's not a lot the federal government can do, and the one lever it could pull, it probably shouldn't.
The price of petrol at the bowser comprises three main elements.
There's the global cost of crude oil and refinement, the fuel excise and the retailer's profit margin.
The fuel excise is fixed amount charged by the federal government on every litre of petrol we put into our cars. It doesn't matter how much a litre of petrol costs you, nor where you purchase your fuel, the tax is the same for everyone.
Currently it's 44.2 cents a litre.
The money collected through the fuel excise is what pays for road infrastructure and maintenance across the country. You use the roads, and by paying for petrol you contribute towards the upkeep and improvement of those roads.
For argument's sake let's say the goverment cuts the excise by a generous 20 per cent. That's eight cents a litre, which sounds nice, but given the prices have leapt upwards of 20cpl in the past fortnight it's not really going to help much.
What cutting the fuel excise will do though is significantly lower the revenue the federal government distributes to the states for road maintenance and improvements.
And if that occurs, you best believe it won't be city road infrastructure that suffers.
If there's an answer to rising fuel costs it could lie in consumers pressuring retailers to concede some of their profit margin - a challenge I would assume given the dominance of Woolworths and Coles in the petrol market not just the supermarket aisles.
The rest I'm afraid is at the whim of the global market for oil and its volatility when large oil producers like Russia declare war on neighbouring countries, resulting in trade sanctions and freight disruption.
There's a much greater reason to wish for an end to the war in Ukraine of course, the human toll is heart-wrenching. But a drop in fuel prices will be a welcome result too.
- Ben Smyth, Editor, Australian Community Media
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