Andrew Clennell, 24 February 2016

THE petrol price war is about to go into overdrive, with new laws to be introduced in parliament next month requiring all service station owners to provide ­details of any price changes within “five to 10 minutes” so they can be posted online.

Under a plan devised by Better Regulation Minister Victor Dominello, the prices will be fed into an app, to be developed by a private operator, so motorists will be able to view a map showing the cheapest petrol in their area.

Mr Dominello said it was ridiculous people could access a map of petrol stations on their smartphone but not what the price of petrol was at those sites in real time. He now wants to legislate to give consumers that power.

“We already have laws which dictate how information is displayed on service station price boards,” Mr Dominello said.

“All we are saying is that in a digital age, consumers should be able to access and compare fuel prices using a digital device.

“This app will be the first of its kind in Australia and empower consumers to make informed decisions about where they can purchase the cheapest fuel.”

The requirement for the state’s 2000 service stations to inform the government “in real time” comes as the government also mandates ethanol-based fuel.

Last December, cabinet agreed to Mr Dominello’s package to enforce a mandate of 6 per cent ethanol-based fuel for oil companies.

“The (digital pricing transparency) reforms will apply to all service stations in NSW,” Mr Dominello said.

“Making this petrol price information publicly available is a game-changer and will benefit punters across the state. The NSW Government will work with start-ups and the tech community to ensure a first-class app is developed.”

News of the change was welcomed by NRMA president Kyle Loades.

“Let there be no doubt, the decision by the NSW Government to force all service stations in NSW to publish their prices online in real-time is a huge win for the state’s drivers and something the NRMA has been fighting to deliver for years,” Mr Loades said.

“It will mean our members will be able to find, in real time, the cheapest petrol in their local suburb when they go to fill up.

“Importantly, it will also mean the oil companies will no longer be able to share this crucial information among themselves while locking out the rest of the community.”

Alison Abdullah, 20, of Lugarno, who studies Optometry at the University of NSW, a 45-minute drive from home, said the idea would be a game-changer.

“I think it’s (the app’s) a great idea and I have told a few friends about that and we all think it’s fantastic that there be some sort of regulatory process,” she said.

Extracted in full from the Daily Telegraph.