Rural operators cannot take advantage of FuelWatch scheme

By: Jason Whittaker


The Federal Government’s National FuelWatch scheme is anything but, as petrol stations outside metropolitan areas can choose whether or not

The Federal Government’s National FuelWatch scheme is anything but, as petrol stations outside metropolitan areas can choose whether or not to set prices 24 hours in advance.

This exlcusion means rural truck operators may not be able to reap the benefits of the initiative, which may save operators close to two cents a litre.

"The extension of this scheme outside of metropolitan areas and major regional centres will be subject to negotiation between the ACCC [Australian Competition and Consumer Commission] and local government authorities in rural areas," a statement from the Prime Minister’s office says.

"Rural local authorities will be able to opt in to te National Fuelwatch scheme."

Under FuelWatch, to be implemented on December 15, metropolitan stations must notify the ACCC of their next day’s petrol prices by 2pm the day before.

They then need maintain this price for a 24-hour period on diesel, biodeisel blends, unleaded petrol, premium unleaded petrol, LPG and 98 RON.

The ability of rural local governments to opt in to the scheme is borrowed from the Western Australian model, which has been operating since 2001.

According to the statement, the Western Australian experience shows the "weekly average price margin was around 1.9 cpl [cents per lire] less on average".

While not promising his plan will result in cheaper petrol prices, Rudd says motorists can avoid paying too much for petrol because they will know in advance where the cheapest fuel will be.

This will happen by way of an SMS service informing subscribed consumers of where the cheapest fuel is in their area. People can also call a toll free number or access the FuelWatch website.

But by forcing metropolitan stations to lock in prices in advance in order to stop upward price gouges, there will also be no flexibility for companies to adjust prices based on downward movements.

The scheme is expected to cost $20.9 million over four years. The Government will review the effectiveness of the scheme 12 months after it begins.

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