On February 21, 2016, the Victorian Government announced a move to introduce new laws governing the display of fuel prices at service stations across the state.
In announcing the proposed regulations, Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Jane Garrett announced that under the regulations, “Victorian petrol stations will only be able to advertise the full price of fuel to motorists”.
The minister went on to state that “site operators will still be able to advertise the special offer – such as 4¢ off fuel – but they will not be able to list the dollar amount on price boards.”
There is no requirement to have a price board under the new regulations, but there is a requirement for those retailers that do use a price board to update prices at the same time as the pump display – a practice that is wholly consistent with long-established good industry practice.
The Victorian Government announced that the regulations will take effect from December 1, 2016, following a further period of consultation on detail of the proposed regulations (this consultation is scheduled to be completed by May 30, 2016).
The Victorian Government regulations mirror those that have been operating in South Australia in recent years – under the umbrella of the Fair Trading (Fuel Industry Code) Regulations 2013.
The Victorian Government announcement follows considerable consultation with ACAPMA and other stakeholders during 2015.
ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie says the Victorian Government regulations, like those in South Australia, represent a pragmatic approach that strikes a good balance between the Government’s desire for consistent pricing practices and the need to minimise compliance costs for fuel retailers.
“Importantly, the Victorian regulations are a major step towards the development of a nationally consistent approach to price board regulations across Australia and ACAPMA will be advocating a similar approach be adopted by the Queensland Government – given recent murmurings of similar price board regulations being considered for the ‘Sunshine State’,” he said.
“ACAPMA welcomes the highly consultative and proportional approach adopted by Mr Garrett and we appreciate the minister’s efforts in seeking to minimise compliance costs for our industry.
“The Victorian approach contrasts strongly with the limited consultation – and onerous compliance requirements – associated with the introduction and operation of the NSW price board regulations.
“The NSW regulations are considerably more onerous and carry a far higher ongoing compliance cost for fuel retailers, with no discernible additional benefit for motorists.”
ACAPMA will continue to work cooperatively with the Victorian Government on the development of the detailed regulation over coming months.