Canberra’s fuel rip-off: Libs promise to trial real-time petrol pricing

Ian Bushnell 23 January 2019 29
Petrol pricing

Canberra’s petrol prices are among the highest in the country.

The Canberra Liberals say they will trial real-time monitoring of petrol prices to help bring down the price of fuel in the Territory, if they win Government next year.

Opposition Leader Alistair Coe said ACT motorists were being ripped off and accused the Government of refusing to do anything about it.

The NRMA agrees and has been calling for the ACT to replicate the NSW FuelCheck legislation introduced in 2016, which requires all service stations to post their prices in real time so they can be available to the public through the Government website and app, and the NRMA app.

But the ACT Government says there is no guarantee that such schemes have any impact on fuel prices and may, in fact, be counterproductive.

Mr Coe said Canberra was among the most expensive places in Australia to buy fuel, with the average price on Monday for unleaded petrol around 145.9c per litre compared to 125.2c per litre in NSW.

“In Belconnen it’s 146.4 per litre compared to 112.5 in Bowral – that’s 33 cents per litre more,” he said.

Mr Coe said that in 2001, the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission had recommended the introduction of a public information system to monitor petrol prices, but Labor had repeatedly refused to take action.

He said he would also write to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to request an investigation into Canberra’s petrol prices.

“We don’t believe it’s fair that Canberrans have to pay 20 to 30 cents more per litre than other Australians,” he said.

“That may mean Canberrans are paying about $20 more than the rest of the country to fill up the tank. We need to make petrol more affordable for all Canberrans.”

Alistair Coe believes ACT motorists were being ripped off and accused the Government of refusing to do anything about it. Photo: Daniella Jukic.

Mr Coe said real-time monitoring of fuel prices would improve transparency of the system and encourage healthy competition among retailers.

“Petrol retailers will be required to report changes to fuel prices by 6 am every morning. After fuel prices have been locked in, they will not be allowed to rise in a 24-hour period,” he said.

“Other jurisdictions that have introduced real-time price checking such as NSW or WA clearly have a more affordable fuel market.

“A real-time fuel watch will help make Canberra’s fuel market more stable, predictable and transparent. This is a simple step that could make a real difference in people’s lives.”

But Chief Minister Andrew Barr said petrol prices were already available on the Petrol Spy app and Canberrans would have to foot the bill for duplicating it with a Government-run fuelwatch scheme.

“We know from Petrol Spy that fuel is cheaper in Fyshwick, Pialligo and Majura Park. Motorists can save between 10c and 25c a litre at the Caltex, Metro and Costco service stations in those areas,” he said.

Mr Barr acknowledged that price gouging and market failures were hurting ACT motorists but the ACCC had warned that 24-hour notification rules could actually reduce competition because they meant a supplier who discovered their prices was a little higher than another nearby could not lower them for at least a day.

“This is a risk that would have to be addressed in any 24-hour price-fixing scheme operating in the ACT,” he said.

Mr Barr said he had written to the ACCC many times for it to review the ACT market and welcomed bipartisan support, calling on local MPs and Senators to also lobby the competition watchdog.

NRMA spokesperson Peter Khoury said crowdsourcing apps such as Petrol Spy were unreliable and not backed by law.

“Nothing is as comprehensive as the legislation introduced in NSW, and nothing is backed by law and potential fines if service stations aren’t posting the right prices,” he said.

Mr Khoury said the scheme had made a difference in NSW, with the gap between the wholesale and retail price of petrol closing by 2.5 cents a litre in Sydney compared with other capitals, and 1.5-2 cents in regional areas.

“Once you start to shine a light on the local market and add more transparency by forcing every service station to post their pricing in real time, you’re also encouraging competition,” he said.

And Canberra was in desperate need of competition, he said.

“Canberra is more expensive than regional town in NSW with a fraction of the population. And it’s been allowed to go on for too long,” Mr Khoury said.

“We can’t force people to open service stations, but what we do want to do is make the ones that are there work harder for our members’ money.”

“And we can do that by increasing transparency [and] putting the information in the hands of the public. Hopefully, that encourages more people who are going to look for choice, then that may encourage more people to enter the market.”

He said other states were following NSW’s lead, such as Queensland and South Australia.

“Why the ACT hasn’t done it is beyond me,” he said.


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29 Responses to Canberra’s fuel rip-off: Libs promise to trial real-time petrol pricing
Order
Terry West Terry West 5:33 pm 23 Jan 19

Why , they or any government in this town are too scared to do anything about why we are getting ripped off 🙄

Boweavil Kat Boweavil Kat 11:36 am 23 Jan 19

Zzzzzzzzzzz um there is an app for that, but then again the liberals did ruin the NBN.

Tim Thornley Tim Thornley 5:24 am 23 Jan 19

How dumb. We already have that with petrolspy.com.au and the app. Support the service stations that suport us. Especially the smaller companies.

Kerri Hallas Kerri Hallas 5:10 am 23 Jan 19

Don’t believe the hype!

Ray Vale Ray Vale 7:40 pm 22 Jan 19

Once again I am having problems with FuelCheck on my iPhone 6S. This morning there was an update to FuelCheck on my iPhone. I lost all my favourites. When I tried to add my favourites again, the only service station in my area selling Diesel (DL) was Bp Gloucester. I am missing about 10 servos in my area. Is there a solution to this. I do not have this problem on my iPad.

Fiona Atkins Fiona Atkins 7:36 pm 22 Jan 19

In the past 2 years since I moved to the ACT, the petrol price (and the recent increase/decrease) has been the same day in, day out

Eoin Wotkinz Eoin Wotkinz 5:34 pm 22 Jan 19

Can confirm government not taking action. Message them yourself via FB messenger

Alex Thomson Alex Thomson 4:58 pm 22 Jan 19

Wot? The Liberals want regulation!?

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 5:08 pm 22 Jan 19

    Alex Thomson they want the popularist vote!

Veronika Sain Veronika Sain 4:38 pm 22 Jan 19

We already had a fuel price website and all it proved was that a petrol station near the airport for a time was cheaper. Knowing prices, if they’re all similar doesn’t make prices go down - legislation to ensure prices aren’t artificially put up for captive populations like ours does that.

    Alex Thomson Alex Thomson 4:58 pm 22 Jan 19

    Veronika Sain this is different. Servos are forced to set their prices the day before, and not change them through out that next day. So they don't know what price other servos are setting, forcing them to post low prices to stay competitive.

    This scheme made a big difference in Perth

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 5:08 pm 22 Jan 19

    Alex Thomson if you read the article in the Canberra times about this they say the ACCC did a study and found that what made a difference in Perth to consumer “savings” was the cyclical nature of prices and the fact everyone knew Monday was the cheapest day of the week. They go on to mention there is not a similar cycle of price variations here.

    Veronika Sain Veronika Sain 6:59 pm 22 Jan 19

    Setting prices the day before just means they’ll set the usual high prices the day before. Canberra prices are much higher than they should be any day of the week.

    Alex Thomson Alex Thomson 8:11 am 23 Jan 19

    Not if they're setting them blind

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