ACCC to closely monitor fuel prices

Following the announcement of a temporary fuel excise tax cut, the ACCC has warned it will monitor fuel prices to ensure savings are passed on at the bowser.

With diesel prices as high as over $2.30 a litre at some service stations today, truckies were hoping for some relief at the bowser in the Federal Budget.

That was delivered in the form of a 50 per cent fuel tax excise cut, bringing the tax down to 22 cents a litre for six months – though the actual saving for transport operators isn’t nearly as good as it seems due to how the move impacts fuel tax credits (FTC).

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) already monitors fuel prices, costs and profits and reports on these each quarter.

ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb says the expectation is for fuel retailers to pass on the cut in fuel excise to reduce the price at the bowser as soon as possible, as existing petrol stock levels are used up.

“Our petrol team will focus on this price monitoring work for the next six months to determine how retailers are passing through the excise reduction to consumers,” Cass-Gottlieb said.

“We will contact petrol retailers to set out our clear expectations that the savings are passed on to consumers and advise them that we will be monitoring their margins. We will also continue to inform consumers of retailer behaviour.

“As these changes flow through to prices at local servos, this is a good time for consumers to look around and shop at those retailers who have already passed on the cut in the excise to their petrol prices.”

The ACCC also noted that the full excise was already paid on existing stocks of fuel, which will be run down first.

This lag in the adjustment of wholesale prices is shorter in larger cities and sites with large turnover, but is often longer in regional locations where lower volumes of fuel are sold and fuel is replenished less frequently.

“If retailers make false or misleading statements to consumers that they have passed on the savings when they have not, the ACCC will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action,” Cass-Gottlieb said.

“We encourage consumers in major capitals to also look at the price cycle information on our website, and consumers everywhere to use price comparison sites.”

According to price comparison site Petrol Spy, there are huge discrepancies in diesel prices across the board. In Victoria, BP South Melbourne’s bowser price is listed at 234.9 a litre, while 7-Eleven Fitzroy is listed at 199.9 a litre.

In NSW, the fluctuations are much the same, with Ampol Woollahra listed at 223.9 and BP Matraville listed at 208.9 (prices as shown on Petrol Spy website at 2.20pm today).

Viva Energy, which supplies Shell fuels to around 1330 service stations across Australia, has vowed to pass on the fuel excise cut in full, with a 10 cent per litre saving already being passed on (with the exception of WA where service stations are required to notify FuelWatch 24 hours in advance of price changes).

“We are pleased this morning to be able to provide some immediate relief to motorists with a 10cpl reduction in fuel prices. We are committed to passing through the full 22.1cpl fuel excise reduction as we replenish fuel stocks in our service station network,” said Viva Energy executive general manager – consumer, Megan Foster.

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