The Fair Trading (Fuel Board Pricing) Regulation 2017 (Qld) (Fuel Board Pricing Regulation) has become law in Queensland and applies in addition to the already existing legislation under the Australian Consumer Law.

When does it commence?

The Fuel Board Pricing Regulation commenced on 31 January 2018.

Who does it apply to?

It applies to ‘fuel retailers’ in Queensland who are defined to be a person [or corporation] that carries on the business of supplying fuel for retail sale.  Fuel includes petrol, a mixture of petrol and ethanol, ethanol, diesel, a mixture of diesel and biodiesel, biodiesel, gas and hydrogen.

Why was it introduced?

The Fuel Board Pricing Regulation was introduced to reduce the risks of motorists being confused by the display of discounted fuel prices on fuel boards which had conditions attached.  For instance a motorist either had to have a voucher or purchase particular items in store to receive the discounted price advertised on the fuel board.

If a motorist didn’t have a voucher or buy the particular products they were required to pay a higher price for their fuel which was often not displayed on the fuel board.  The conditions of receiving the discounted fuel price were often in smaller print on the fuel board and not visible to a motorist whilst driving.

The Fuel Board Pricing Regulation is based on similar existing legislation in South Australia and Victoria.

What does it do?

The main elements of the Fuel Board Pricing Regulation are summarised as follows:

  1. It prohibits a fuel retailer from displaying a discounted fuel price on a price board.
  2. Where petrol prices are increased, it requires the fuel retailer to change the price displayed on the fuel board to reflect an increase in fuel prices at the same time or before changing the fuel pump price.
  3. Where petrol prices are decreased, it requires the fuel retailer to change the price displayed on the fuel board to reflect the decrease in fuel prices at the same time or after changing the fuel pump prices.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

If a fuel retailer fails to comply with the Fuel Board Pricing Regulation they may be issued with an infringement notice which carries a penalty up to a maximum of 20 penalty units for individuals and 100 penalty units for corporations for each of the above elements.  The penalty unit value in Qld is currently $126.15 meaning the maximum penalty would be $2,523 for individuals and $12,615 for corporations.

What to do next?

If you are a fuel retailer in Queensland ensure:

  1. you no longer display a discounted price for fuel on your fuel board;
  2. when increasing fuel prices you change the display on the fuel board at the same time or before you change the price at the fuel pumps;
  3. when you decrease fuel prices you change the display on the fuel board at the same time or after you change the price at the fuel pumps.

Please see a link to the regulation here: https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/pdf/inforce/current/sl-2017-0183

HWL Ebsworth has a specialist Petroleum team that advise clients across various industries.  Contact us for further information.

Article written by: Peter van Rompaey, Consultant, Derek Sutherland, Special Counsel and Melissa Ramsden, Solicitor, HWL Ebsworth Lawyers