Queensland petrol stations will have to publish fuel price changes within 30 minutes, under a move slated to save motorists money.
The state government on Wednesday bowed to a campaign to introduce real-time price monitoring across the state, in a two-year trial starting from December.
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington, who spent months calling for the policy, claimed the announcement as a political win.
Consumer watchdog ACCC has previously said live monitoring would likely put downward pressure on prices, by increasing transparency and competition.
Motorists will be able to search for the best price on a smartphone app and websites like MotorMouth, GasBuddy, Petrol Spy, RACQ and Compare the Market.
Labor was initially against the measure, but came around after a sustained campaign from motoring lobby group RACQ.
Energy Minister Anthony Lynham said the move would not guarantee a drop in prices.
“The goal is for Queensland motorists to be able to identify the best deal, and use their buying power to support retailers who are doing the right thing,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The trial seeks to put the power into customers’ hands.”
Petrol retailers will report changing prices within 30 minutes to a private tech company, which will pass on the information.
Retailers will face fines from April if they do not comply.
The government will evaluate the trial’s performance in 2020.
Dr Lynham said the government was focused on developing a model that did not create red tape.
“In contrast to the LNP’s proposed scheme, this system will be cost effective and will not compete against commercial providers with its own fuel price app or website.”
Ms Frecklington said delaying the rollout any longer would end up costing consumers.
“I am hugely disappointed that motorists will have to wait another five months before they feel any relief at the fuel pump,” she said.
“Retailers won’t even be forced to comply with the trial until April next year.”
An ACCC report released in October last year found Brisbane had high petrol prices mostly because of higher retail margins.
Brisbane also had fewer independent chains operating in the retail market than Sydney, and did not price as aggressively.
“The report concluded that increased transparency and promotion of vigorous and effective price competition can lead to lower petrol prices,” an ACCC spokesperson told The New Daily earlier this year.
The spokesperson noted websites about petrol prices already available to Queensland motorists could enable then to shop around.
But live monitoring had added benefits, ACCC said.
“While having many website and app providers can help drivers, the timeliness and completeness of the price data is important in empowering motorists to find cheaper prices and encourage competition.”
Analysis last year estimated Brisbane motorists could save about $40 million through the measure, pushing regular unleaded petrol prices down about 2.4 cents per litre.
Brisbane was the most expensive of all Australian capital cities, with an average price of $1.247 per litre – $0.027 per litre higher than the average across the other four largest cities.
RACQ head of public policy Rebecca Michael on Wednesday said the measure would empower motorists.
“It’s a win-win for motorists and also for retailers offering cheaper fuel. Motorists will now be able to find the best deals and support competitive service stations,” Dr Michael said in a statement.
“We know some retailers will continue to price gouge and choose not to compete with those charging lower prices. This trial will empower drivers with the choice to reward the cheapest servos with their business.”