ACCC goes into battle to bring cheaper fuel to regions
THE Australian competition watchdog is training its eyes on regional service stations, in an effort to find out why country drivers are slugged so much more at the bowser.
The ACCC has compared fuel prices through late 2014 in Toowoomba in Queensland, and Coffs Harbour and Tamworth in New South Wales.
In each case, prices stayed almost static, hovering around the maximum price paid for fuel in the cities.
In the same period, capital city drivers were often paying significantly less.
In mid July 2014, regional drivers were paying an average of 5.7c per litre more. By the end of the year, that jumped to 17.6c per litre.
The ACCC will now release two separate reports four times a year, with one focusing specifically on fuel prices in regional Australia.
These "micro reports" will consider how close areas are to the nearest port, transport costs and other factors that could be driving up the cost of petrol.
"We will look at three regional locations closely this year to understand their level of petrol prices in more detail," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
"The studies will look at the cost of fuel in the nearest port, transport and storage costs, as well as wholesale, distribution, and retail costs to fully explain prices and where money is being made in the petrol price value chain."
The ACCC will keep its target locations secret for as long as it can, in an effort to stop sellers from cleaning up their act before the probe begins.
He said the probe might discover "bottlenecks" that might be forcing up prices, and can be addressed.
The other report, or "macro report", will consider fuel prices in all capital cities and about 180 regional sites.
It will cover prices across the country and how they move.
Mr Sims said the ACCC's work would help to embarrass companies who may be charging too much, giving more power to drivers.
"This action is important as each extra cent per litre on petrol costs Australian consumers close to $200 million per year," he said.