A fuel price watchdog, attracting more independent operators and potentially extending the FuelCheck price monitoring scheme from NSW are part of a suite of measures announced by the ACT Government to increase competition in the Territory petrol market and ease motorists’ pain at the bowser.
The government says it will establish an oversight body to monitor the ACT fuel market, encouraged by the fact prices went down during last year’s two inquiries.
It has also reached out to independent retailers, saying it will assist them to identify potential sites in the ACT, new and old.
A spokesperson said talks were already under way between Puma Energy, Budget Petrol, United Petrol and the ACT Planning Directorate after Chief Minister Andrew Barr wrote to eight of the major independent retailers in December.
Independent operator Metro Petroleum has recently opened a site in Mitchell.
“There has been keen interest with retailers seeking to set up in the next six to 12 months,” the spokesperson said.
Despite initial concerns about the feasibility of a price monitoring tool, the government is now open to the possibility of adopting the NSW FuelCheck scheme in light of last year’s Legislative Assembly inquiry.
“We are exploring whether the NSW FuelCheck model could be expanded to the ACT at a cost-effective price. We will make a decision on implementing it in the ACT following consultations with NSW,” the spokesperson said.
“We are only considering fuel price monitoring that operates in real time, not models that lock in retailers to set a daily price.”
The government will also conduct an education program so drivers can understand how they can influence competition by shopping around for the best price.
Mr Barr said historically Canberrans had been poorly served by fuel retailers.
“It’s no secret that Canberrans were paying some of the highest petrol prices in Australia,” he said.
“We are taking a range of actions to increase competition and improve fuel price transparency in the ACT, as outlined in the Government’s response to the Assembly inquiry.”
Mr Barr said the government was also investigating mandatory, real-time fuel price reporting, which could be delivered by the NSW FuelCheck scheme incorporating ACT service stations.
“I have written to the NSW Premier to seek her agreement, which would help Canberrans decide where to buy petrol and keep retailers honest,” he said.
The government would also commission ongoing analysis and reporting on the ACT fuel market to increase transparency and place a continuing eye on fuel prices in the Territory.
Two major inquiries were undertaken into the ACT fuel market in 2019 – by the Legislative Assembly and the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC).