Scrutiny reveals the truth about Canberra petrol prices

Released 29/07/2019

Canberrans are now paying fuel prices much closer to Sydney drivers following an Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) analysis of the ACT fuel market commissioned by the ACT Government.

The ICRC report shows what most Canberrans already know: we have been getting ripped-off at the bowser.

Earlier this year, I tasked the ICRC with undertaking an analysis of fuel prices and competition in the ACT retail market and report back to the Legislative Assembly with its findings.

The ICRC analysis showed over the past seven years petrol prices in the ACT have been consistently higher than in Sydney, with monthly average price being around 8.4 cents per litre higher in Canberra. The difference in 2018-19 was 11.8 cents per litre.

But since the ICRC commenced its investigations, the average monthly retail petrol price in the ACT has reduced to be almost in-line with Sydney; with the difference in May being only 0.6 cents per litre.

The ICRC analysis also showed Canberra petrol stations were making much larger profits than petrol stations in Sydney and regional NSW.

It appears the scrutiny of the ICRC and the extraordinary powers it holds to compel companies to hand over financial records has made a difference to the prices being charged to Canberra motorists.

We need to ensure this continues and providers don't unjustifiably hike their prices.

It would therefore be prudent for the Legislative Assembly Select Committee to consider the merits of a standing inquiry into petrol prices in the ACT, with the same powers as the ICRC to compel financial documents from companies, before releasing its final report and recommendations later this year.

The evidence and information from the ICRC's investigations shows the market is not serving our community, and service stations are charging motorists higher prices than in other cities and the surrounding region.

Canberra service stations are making nearly twice the profit of petrol stations in nearby regional locations.

The ICRC report also confirmed that proposals such as fuel watch schemes that lock in daily prices, as seen in other jurisdictions, will be unlikely to lead to lower prices and can reduce market competition.

The ACT Government looks forward to receiving the Assembly Committee recommendations to put in place policies and mechanisms to maintain pressure on fuel providers in the ACT.

- Statement ends -

Section: Andrew Barr, MLA | Media Releases

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