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Petrol prices galloped to fresh record highs in the past week as global oil prices remained propped up by the war in Ukraine.
The Australian Institute of Petroleum said the national weekly average for petrol prices jumped by 14.9 cents in the past week to a record 212.5 cents a litre, after ranging from 210.4 cents to 214 cents.
As if households aren’t facing enough pressure at the petrol bowser, economists expect prices could go even higher with crude oil prices remaining elevated and back above $US100 a barrel.
The federal government has promised to provide some support for households in next week’s budget in the face of escalating cost of living pressures.
There has been speculation the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg may temporarily reduce fuel excise from 44 cents a litre.
But Deloitte Access Economics economist Chris Richardson warned such supports could further fuel inflation and bring forward the timing of an expected interest rate rise by the Reserve Bank of Australia this year.
He said it is also difficult to remove such assistance once in place.
Meanwhile, a new survey showed Australia’s small business sector achieved the weakest rate of growth in the Asia Pacific region in 2021.
The CPA Australia Asia Pacific survey found more Australian small businesses shrank in 2021 than grew.
Only 32.2 per cent of Australian respondents said their business grew last year, compared to a survey average of 47.3 per cent, while 35.5 per cent reported that they shrank.
Not only did Australian small businesses record the lowest rate of revenue growth at 33.7 per cent – compared to a survey average 50.2 per cent. Only 7.1 per cent increased employee numbers, versus a survey average of 28.7 per cent.
The survey took in small businesses from Indonesia, the Philippines and India, which led the region by growth.
CPA Australia senior manager business policy Gavan Ord said the survey shows when it comes to Australian small businesses, technology is their weak link, and should be a wake-up call ahead of the federal election due in May.
“Small businesses are incredibly important to Australia’s economy,” he said.
“Whichever party forms government, we want them to ensure Australia’s Digital Economy Strategy reflects the importance of small business and supports them to succeed in the digital economy.”
Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics and Business Correspondent
(Australian Associated Press)