25 September 2023

Probe puts brakes on petrol prices

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An analysis of fuel prices in the ACT conducted by the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) has found they have dropped to be comparable to Sydney.

Chief Minister, Andrew Barr said the report showed what most Canberrans already knew — that in the past they had been 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 to report back to the Legislative Assembly with its findings,” Mr Barr said.

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

He said however, that since the ICRC began its investigations the average monthly retail petrol price in the ACT had decreased to be almost in line with Sydney, with the difference in May being only 0.6c per litre.

He said the ICRC analysis also showed Canberra petrol stations were making far greater 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,” Mr Barr said.

“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.”

He said the ICRC report also confirmed that proposals such as fuel watch schemes that lock in daily prices, as seen in other jurisdictions, would be unlikely to lead to lower prices in the ACT and could reduce market competition.

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