Geoff Chambers, 29 February 2016

Brisbane motorists have copped higher fuel prices than Sydney and Melbourne drivers as part of a six-year fuel rort exacerbated by “confusing discount signage”.

Since 2009, Brisbane ­motorists have paid an average of 3.2c a litre more than drivers in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or ­Adelaide, the RACQ says.

Last financial year the gap ­increased to 4.4c a litre, while ­motorists in Cairns and Townsville, on the north Queensland coast, also copped higher charges at the bowser.

Yesterday Royal Automobile Club of Queensland spokes­woman Renee Smith called on the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission to launch an immediate investigation.

The Palaszczuk government will host a fuel summit on Wednesday, at which the RACQ will urge it to implement simpler price-board regulation.

“Brisbane motorists, and those in other parts of Queensland, ­including Cairns, have been paying too much for too long, and enough is enough, it’s time for a fair go,” Ms Smith said.

“An ACCC investigation is well overdue, and we need action now because while we wait, Queensland motorists pay the cost.”

Ms Smith said the government also should follow the lead of NSW and South Australia and remove “confusing” discount signage. “The state government can help motorists by regulating signage. It’s time for an end to the fuel signage rort in Queensland,” she said.

“Most signs show a highlighted discount price which isn’t available to many motorists.

“How can we have genuine competition if the prices on the signs are dependent on having the right voucher or making in-store purchases?”

The RACQ has called for fuel retailers to display the current price, fuel price boards to be compulsory at service stations and fuel price categories to be labelled clearly.

Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said an ACCC report into Australian petrol prices confirmed that Queenslanders were paying more for fuel.

“The report found petrol margins in Australia’s largest cities have increased to their highest levels since 2002, with Brisbane consistently higher than its counterparts,’’ he said.

“But, importantly, it also found that regional areas have been slow to decrease their petrol prices. International oil prices are at a 10-year low. I want to see the benefits of this being passed through to consumers at the petrol bowser, regardless of their postcode.”

Mr Bailey said the government would “consider measures in place in other jurisdictions”, ­including regulating signs.

The ACCC has investigated fuel prices in Darwin and will examine similar price issues in Armidale and Launceston.

Extracted in full from The Australian.