The Commission has, since 2008, reported only annually on fuel pricing matters via its Fuel Price Monitoring Report.
The Minister for Small Business, Bruce Billson, has now instructed the ACCC to compile reports on fuel pricing more regularly to put a tighter spotlight on overcharging and anti-competitive behaviour.
“At the moment, the ACCC does an annual Fuel Price Monitoring Report and to be frank with you, it’s a gripping read about what happened over the last 12 months and a lot of policy analysts and people that love to reflect on those price movements find it pretty interesting,” Mr Billson said, speaking with Radio 3AW.
“But for the average motorist it’s too late. The issues of particular concern for them [are] ‘why is there a spike prior to school holidays?’ ‘Why is it when LPG international benchmark prices go up, the LPG price goes up immediately but when it goes down it seems to take forever to change?’”
Mr Billson said the ACCC would be compiling “useful, actionable information” quarterly rather than yearly, and that the Commission would be able to target specific areas of concern.
The Minister pointed to regional pricing for fuel in comparison to city pricing, and even vastly-different pricing for neighbouring towns in the same rural area where transport costs and fuel volumes would be similar.
When questioned on a future website or app from the ACCC for fuel pricing, Mr Billson believed a level of caution was required to prevent such a feature from becoming a price-fixing tool for fuel retailers.
A switch to focused, quarterly reports isn’t the only action the ACCC has taken against potential overpricing of fuel this year, with a court hearing scheduled later this month over alleged ‘price-sharing’.
Supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths were also taken to task by the ACCC earlier this year over the long-running ‘discount shopper-docket’ debate.