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A national FuelWatch scheme will be launched later this year, but can it bring relief to motorists at a time of record global oil prices?
By Marian Edmunds
Do you spend your life watching fuel prices? Are you always on stand by for those fleeting hours when the bowsers won’t guzzle your weekly income?
Our scrutiny of fuel prices is set to become more intense with the launch this year of a national FuelWatch scheme. The scheme will see the cost conscious among us (and aren’t we all?) checking websites or phone services, or watching for advertisements to find the cheapest fuel stations every time we need to fill up.
Fuel retailers will be required by law to report their next day’s price and stick to that price for 24 hours. Prices will be listed on a FuelWatch website, on phone lines, and through the media.
But will it reduce our fuel costs?
The launch of FuelWatch comes soon after the appointment of Patrick Walker as Australia’s first Petrol Commissioner. In 2001 he established FuelWatch in WA. It runs in Perth and across 80 per cent of the state.
Perth used to be the most expensive capital in Australia to purchase unleaded fuel, says Aaron Raynor, Deputy Prices Commissioner at the Department of Consumer and Employment Protection who now oversees WA FuelWatch. “Since we’ve introduced Fuel Watch, we’ve gone from being the most expensive capital city to the cheapest capital city by about two cents per litre.”
If the WA experience is anything to go by a national FuelWatch will spell the end, or at least a change from the weekly fuel cycle in the eastern states where motorists know they can find cheaper fuel on a Tuesday.
When averaged out over a fortnightly cycle Perth’s prices may not be cheap, says Gary Fites, spokesman for motoring body RACQ. Under a WA style fuel watch, Queenslanders will go one week at least where they pay higher prices than now, he says. Many of us need to fill up more frequently than fortnightly.