Dual fuel inquiries to probe ACT’s bowser pain

Ian Bushnell 11 February 2019 26
Petrol pricing

Canberra’s fuel prices are charging on average seven cents a litre higher than the other five major capital cities.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr is hoping two separate inquiries into high fuel prices in the ACT will pressure retailers into cutting the cost of filling up, but has not ruled out legislative action if that fails.

Mr Barr is keen for retailers to justify their prices to ACT motorists, saying if some can sell fuel at 20-25 cents a litre less than the dominant price in the Territory why can’t others.

He also flagged that there may be recommendations to the National Capital Authority, which controls planning on the main roads in to Canberra, about the siting of service stations in more accessible places.

All parties in the ACT agree that Canberra motorists are being gouged by the big operators, which are charging on average, seven cents a litre higher than the other five major capital cities.

Mr Barr said that with the competition watchdog refusing to examine the Canberra market, the Government would establish a Select Committee of the Legislative Assembly to inquire into how fuel prices are determined in the ACT, the impact of rising fuel prices on Canberra drivers, and regulatory and legislative solutions that could have a real effect on fuel prices.

The Government had also tasked the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to conduct a factual analysis of fuel price factors and market competition in parallel to the Committee Inquiry.

“The Government has written to the ACCC, and I have personally met with the Chairman, to implore him to use that body’s investigative powers to undertake a deep dive analysis on why the market is failing in the ACT. Despite these unexplained and unjustified price differences, the ACCC has refused this request,” Mr Barr said.

“The Government is seeking a greater understanding of the market issues that are leading to higher fuel prices in the ACT, and what measures could be put in place to force more competitive pricing.”

Mr Barr said representatives from fuel providers were likely to be asked to give evidence during public hearings of the select committee, which will provide their final report to the Assembly in June 2019.

He said the ICRC analysis was expected to take a similar timeframe to complete, ‘allowing the Government to consider both reports in developing a response that will actually make a difference for Canberra drivers’.

The Canberra Liberals have argued for real-time pricing based on the NSW Government’s FuelCheck monitoring system, but the Government has resisted this, saying there were already ways for motorists to find the best-priced fuel in the ACT such as MotorMouth’s software app and websites such as actfuelwatch.com.au and petrolspy.com.au.

Meanwhile, the Government is urging motorists to fill up at well-known cheaper sites at the Airport and Fyshwick.

The announcement of the dual inquiries comes as the Government bans service stations from displaying discounted prices on fuel boards because it believes they can be misleading.

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26 Responses to Dual fuel inquiries to probe ACT’s bowser pain
A Nonny Mouse A Nonny Mouse 8:01 pm 14 Feb 19

Let’s also have the price of an ‘e-litre’ published. An e-litre is a way to compare the cost of travelling in an electric vehicle with an average petrol vehicle. A 7L per 100km petrol car will go around 14km consuming a litre of fuel costing about $1.50. A typical electric car uses 50 cents worth of electricity at the current flat tariff of 25c/kWh to cover the same distance. Hence, the current cost of an ‘e-litre’ of electric ‘fuel’ is 50c.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 6:17 pm 13 Feb 19

“The Government is seeking a greater understanding of the market issues that are leading to higher fuel prices in the ACT, and what measures could be put in place to force more competitive pricing.”

As the saying goes, every journey starts with a single step, so we might eventually get to the serious stuff, like the cost of buying or renting somewhere to live in Canberra – a Government inquiry into that would be easy, all it would take is a large mirror and a spotlight (and no rose-coloured glasses).

The broader issue, of course, is the local version of the ‘Australia Tax’. –


Peter McDonald Peter McDonald 3:00 am 13 Feb 19

Must be an early election due.

Grimm Grimm 6:00 pm 12 Feb 19

Another Labor party inquiry. Well, that should keep somebodies job justified….

I pay less for fuel in country towns in the middle of nowhere for fuel than I do in Canberra, so it is definitely not transport costs as I have heard blamed before. We are simply being gouged.

Gilavon Gilavon 9:45 am 12 Feb 19

Ho hum … the annual fuel price rant, chief minister talks tough, establishes an enquiry, lots of huffing and puffing .. then the Easter weekend and all is put back on the shelf ’till next year.

Raewyn Bastion Raewyn Bastion 9:11 am 12 Feb 19

Yes Ella it’s worth it the lines go fairly quickly and it’s a good chance to catch up,on your day in peace

Nell Feneck Nell Feneck 6:10 am 12 Feb 19

Just go to Costco - 120.7 a litre yesterday

    Ella Factor Ella Factor 8:13 am 12 Feb 19

    Nell Feneck I’ve thought about joining, but what length of time do you usually have to queue? I’ve heard it can be really long, is it worth it?

house_husband house_husband 5:58 am 12 Feb 19

With no independents left for large parts of Canberra the major players have learned over time they can just set their prices high and people won’t travel to the airport or Fyshwick. Unless collusion can be proven there is simply nothing that any government can do to stop this.

The only thing that has a chance of bringing prices down is if enough people change their buying habits and make the extra trip for the cheap fuel.

Jim Donaldson Jim Donaldson 11:10 pm 11 Feb 19

About time. I'd like to see the ACT Govt open some stations to keep the market honest

Mark Chapman Mark Chapman 9:12 pm 11 Feb 19

Yeah, 1.66 on Summernats weekend.

What a joke

Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 9:07 pm 11 Feb 19

I’ll hold my breath shall I? I mean it’s perfectly logical that fuel prices in Goulburn are up to 10 cents per litre cheaper than in Canberra.

Mike Clayton Mike Clayton 8:07 pm 11 Feb 19

The only way anything will ever happen is if the polys have to pay for everything them selves and earn, " the average Australian wage"

Bethany Williams Bethany Williams 5:06 pm 11 Feb 19

I’d like to know exactly ‘why’ the ACCC is refusing to investigate the fact that the ACT pays a considerably higher price for fuel than other capital cities. Down the coast, it’s about 20 cents a litre cheaper. The ACCC is supposed to protect consumers and ensure we aren’t being ripped off...so I had thought. So why aren’t they looking into this matter?

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 5:36 pm 11 Feb 19

    Bethany Williams the ACCC doesn’t care if we are being ripped off and in fact can do nothing about price gouging.

    About the only time they can do something is if it can be proved that there is collusion between the players to fix the price and to stop mergers if that merger would lead to significantly reduced competition.

    Bethany Williams Bethany Williams 5:38 pm 11 Feb 19

    Ashley Wright so, how come the ACCC doesn’t care? (Genuine question).

    Adam Forwood Adam Forwood 5:42 pm 11 Feb 19

    Bethany Williams it’s not a question of caring, it’s a question of legislative powers. The ACCC doesn’t write the rules - the government does. The ACCC doesn’t have the power to compel anyone to reduce prices because the law the enforce doesn’t say they can. Until the Competition and Consumer Act is amended, that won’t change.

    Bethany Williams Bethany Williams 5:59 pm 11 Feb 19

    Adam Forwood gotcha. Thanks for that 👍🏻😃

    Geoff Cooke Geoff Cooke 9:13 pm 11 Feb 19

    Ashley Wright I’ve always wondered why there was no ACCC intervention during the Coles and Woolworth buy up of all the independent petrol stations that got us into this mess? It’s resulted in the duopoly and increased prices we’re forced to endure. certainly seemed to fit within their area of responsibility. The supermarket docket scheme we all fell for played a big role

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 11:04 pm 11 Feb 19

    Geoff Cooke maybe because that’s not what happened!

    Firstly there is no duopoly. Coles and Woolworths have a combine shared of 50%. There are also 3 other major players who share the other 50% with along with the independents. And interestingly the market share in Canberra matches the rest of the country except that here 7Eleven has a higher percentage than BP, nation wide it is the other way around.

    With Coles they did not buy up any independents. They purchased the management rights of existing Shell service stations. So whilst Shell may well have been a dominate brand there was no shift in market share. Now if Coles has owned their own servos prior then yes they may have been an issue.

    As for Woolies they started by opening their own sites and yes they purchased some brands like Gull. But again at that time they were a small player so there was little market shift and those purchases may well have been seen as good for competition by creating a stronger chain. Then later they got in bed with Caltex and purchased some of their sites. In this case the ACCC did restrict them and they didn’t get as many sites as they first wanted. And do bear in mind that even now whilst Caltex and Woolworths might work closely together they are seperate company’s who compete with each other.

    Amanda Evans Amanda Evans 9:01 am 12 Feb 19

    Adam Forwood so then why are they looking everywhere but here?

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 6:22 pm 12 Feb 19

    Amanda Evans they are not looking elsewhere. That’s not the reason prices are high here. Once you cut through the noise it is clear they charge what they do because the market can (for the most part pay it). I mean to say Coles/Shell is consistently the highest price fuel in Canberra. If people wanted cheaper prices the first thing they could do is buy somewhere else and send the pricing message to Coles. But people don’t.

Mathew Grant Mathew Grant 4:56 pm 11 Feb 19

Nothing will change

    James Forge James Forge 8:28 pm 11 Feb 19

    Sadly I tend to agree. We can however cling to some hope.

Matt Boyd Matt Boyd 4:44 pm 11 Feb 19

About bloody time!

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