The ACCC has announced Launceston as the second regional location to be studied as part of the petrol monitoring arrangements launched by Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson last December.
The in-depth regional market studies aim to explain each component of the prices paid at the bowser to understand why prices are higher in some regional locations.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said petrol prices in Launceston are among the highest in Australia.
“The average annual retail petrol price in Launceston was 162.6¢ per litre in 2013-14, some 12cpl higher than the five largest capital cities,” he said. “Furthermore, this differential has doubled since 2009-10.”
Mr Sims said the regional fuel market studies are about ensuring transparency surrounding the key drivers of regional petrol prices.
“They have the potential to empower regional communities and various levels of government with information and recommendations that assist their decision-making,” he said. “We may also uncover a breach of the Competition and Consumer Act that was not otherwise apparent.
“We also believe the Launceston study will shed light on a range of petrol pricing issues in Tasmania generally.”
Bruce Billson and federal member for Bass Andrew Nikolic welcomed the announcement of Launceston as the subject of the ACCC’s second probe into regional petrol prices.
“The ACCC’s probe will help us work out why petrol prices in Launceston are so high and provide some understanding of why petrol prices in Tasmania generally are as high as they are,” Mr Billson said. “The findings will arm Tasmanians with the information they need to choose where they fill up and enable the ACCC to take action where it can.”
The ACCC commenced its first regional market study in Darwin in March and will release the report of that study later in the year. The Launceston report is also expected to be released by the end of the year.
The third regional location to be studied will be announced soon.
Companies throughout the supply chain will be required to provide information to the ACCC under the compulsory information-gathering powers it has under section 95ZK of the Competition and Consumer Act. The ACCC is also interested in obtaining information from consumers, industry participants, stakeholders and any other interested parties regarding the petroleum industry in Launceston. Relevant information can be provided to the ACCC via its Consultation Hub website by July 31.