The Federal Member for Bass Andrew Nikolic and I welcome the announcement that Launceston will be the subject of the ACCC's second probe into regional petrol prices in Australia.
Launceston petrol prices are among the highest in Australia, and both Andrew and I have been deeply concerned about this. We have also both received many representations from Tasmanians raising their concerns.
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.
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.
We recognise that fuel prices are a significant cost of living pressure for many consumers and businesses, particularly in regional and rural Australia.
The regional market studies are one part of the Government's commitment to tackling petrol prices.
At my request, the ACCC is now also reporting on petrol prices across the country quarterly.
Member for Bass Andrew Nikolic said the last report showed that in Launceston, average annual retail petrol prices were 162.6 cents per litre (cpl) in 2013-14, some 12 cpl more than the average of the five largest capital cities.
"The difference between prices in Launceston and major cities has doubled since 2009-10 and has been as much as 21.7cpl in January before narrowing to 6.9 cpl in March.
"Having made strong representations to Minister Billson about high fuel prices in Northern Tasmania, I'm very pleased that Launceston will be the subject of the next regional market study.
"I had been strongly encouraging motorists to contact the ACCC with their concerns about the high price of petrol in our community and today’s announcement will be widely welcomed.
"I hope this inquiry into Launceston fuel prices will help to ensure we all pay a fair price at the pump."
Minister Billson added that he is dismayed that in some areas competition alone is not enough to ensure motorists are getting efficient pricing at the bowser:
The new direction I have given the ACCC aims to rectify this by providing more timely price monitoring data and a bright spotlight on markets of concern to get to the bottom of why prices are higher in certain regions.
This examination aims to empower consumers to use their purchasing dollar to drive change, encourage competition and to inform possible ACCC enforcement action.
I look forward to the outcome of the ACCC’s probe into Launceston petrol prices and await receipt of the report from the deep dive in the Darwin market, which is currently underway and due later this year.