The Opposition is calling on the ACT Government to develop or purchase a government-backed fuel price comparison application so Canberrans can ensure they are getting the best deal at the bowser.
Last month, it was revealed Canberra had the highest petrol prices in the country and prices locally had failed to drop in line with the wholesale price dropping.
It’s generally argued smaller markets like the ACT have higher fuel prices than other jurisdictions because they have fewer independent fuel retailers and less competition than bigger cities.
Canberra Liberals MLA Peter Cain said a simple step would be the government bringing across an app like NSW’s FuelCheck to the Territory.
That state government-owned application is available online, on the App Store and on Google Play. It shows consumers the petrol prices nearest to them as well as the average price across the state.
It’s also possible to filter the app by the type of fuel desired.
Mr Cain, who accused the government of having forgotten how to innovate, said the app would allow consumers in Canberra to digitally access the most affordable fuel prices and to compare prices at petrol stations all around the city.
“This government has not listened to community concerns to help relieve the rising costs of living here,” he said.
“[The app] has already proven incredibly effective in NSW and has received strong support from the community and industry experts, most recently by the NRMA a few weeks ago.
“It’s a step in the right direction for independent operators and other businesses who have been costed out of this industry in the ACT.”
Mr Cain said the Government had failed to heed advice from an Assembly Select Committee on Fuel Pricing in 2019 which recommended it initiate a real-time, mandatory price monitoring scheme similar to the FuelCheck app to improve industry transparency and competition within the ACT fuel supply market.
“The Canberra Liberals are serious about solutions to ease the cost of living pressures and improve the lives of Canberrans. The FuelCheck app is a simple step in the right direction,” Mr Cain said.
In responding to that committee three years ago, the Government said it was of the view there was already a high degree of retail fuel price transparency in the ACT.
“Several privately provided apps and websites provide reasonable coverage of fuel price information for the Territory at no charge to the community,” its response read.
The Government said at the time it wasn’t clear where the benefits to consumers from a government-operated scheme would outweigh the costs associated with developing, implementing and operating a mandatory scheme.
Nevertheless, it agreed to work with the NSW Government to investigate the costs of expanding the NSW FuelCheck scheme across the border.
A Google search will show a number of websites including Petrolspy, Petrolbuddy and Fuel Price that provide comparisons of prices around Canberra.
But it’s unclear whether these are, in fact, exhaustive.
Petrol prices are expected to jump by 22 cents on 29 September when the halving of the fuel excise comes to an end.
The Federal Government has argued it cannot afford to extend that scheme although Coalition and crossbench MPs are calling on it to do so.