The New South Wales government’s new service-station price board laws have come into effect this week, designed to make it easier for consumers to find the best price.
Service stations that sell more than four fuel products will also be forced to advertise their top two selling fuels in addition to the LPG and diesel price, meaning a minimum of four prices in total.
It is hoped that the new laws will increase competition for less popular fuels and put downward pressure on premium unleaded prices, which fluctuate wildly between brands and sites.
Outlets that offer a discounted fuel price, usually via a shopper-docket scheme, will still be able to advertise that they offer a discount, without advertising the discounted price.
Service stations will also be forced to display the octane rating of all fuels at the bowser.
“Motorists will no longer be confused about the real cost of fuel as they approach a service station,” NSW Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts said.
“The mandatory standards will improve transparency in the industry, increase competition and enable consumers to accurately compare fuel prices at different retailers.”
Mr Roberts said that a 2012 survey by the department found that 90 percent of the 1300 people surveyed were in favour of the changes. Another 60 percent believed they had been misled in the past by a service station price board.
The NRMA has come out in support of the new laws, with president Wendy Machin saying that the motoring group lobbied for the changes.
“We fought hard on behalf of our members to ensure more transparency and better information about petrol prices so that motorists could make the right choice when it came to filling up,” Ms Machin said.
“Our research found too many motorists were caught out by price boards that didn’t display prices for popular fuels or included discounts from shopper dockets.”
Fines of up to $110,000 for a corporation and $22,000 for an individual will apply to service stations who fail to comply with the new laws. On the spot fines (penalty infringement notices) of $550 also apply.