Fuel price slows mum?s taxi


ROCKHAMPTON mother of six Gayle Sunderland says soaring fuel prices are hitting Central Queensland families like hers hard.

But, she says, there is not much she can do to cut the increasing cost of running her children around the city.

Mrs Sunderland estimates she and her husband, John, spend more than $190 a fortnight running the kids to school, sports training and events, and other extra curricular activities. ? Some days mum's taxi is on the move for up to three hours. "There are times when I will drive over the bridge eight times in one day,'' she said.

Between them that is almost $5000 a year, or about 8 per cent, of the family's single income earned by John, a Queensland Rail engine driver.

"We have talked about converting our vehicle to gas to save money.''

She said the rising fuel prices were just one more expense families had to budget for.

Her children are aged between four and 14.

"We live close to their schools, but I'd never let them walk,'' she said.

"It's just not safe.

"We haven't had to cut back on anything yet,'' she said. The crunch might come soon, though.

Economists predict petrol will cost more than $1.20 a litre in the next few weeks.

But the RACQ says prices should not be so high.

The company's executive manager for economic and public policy Ken Willett said petrol companies were taking advantage of consumers by not dropping fuel prices when the market price dropped.

While companies were quick to increase the price when the world crude oil price went up, there was only a nominal de- crease when prices dropped.

"We have seen a tendency for petrol prices to rise with crude oil prices,'' he said.

"But when prices drop we have seen them hold off three or four weeks before it passes on.''

Mr Willett said petrol was more expensive inland because of transport costs and lack of competition.

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