Following 10 months of research, stakeholder interaction and committee hearings the Victorian Law Reform, Road and Community Safety Committee (LRRCSC) has handed down their report into the Inquiry into fuel drive-offs.

The inquiry established in May 2015 by the Andrews Government saw submissions made by all forms of consumer advocates, retail fuel operators, state police bodies, and industry association including ACAPMA in the effort to highlight the root cause of fuel drive-offs and establish a means to decrease the frequency of such events in Victoria.

In total the committee made 4 key findings while conducting their inquiry, including that;

  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that they may be a correlation between the theft of fuel and stolen number plate, however there is insufficient reliable data to reflect this
  • There is insufficient data to reflect that the alterations in Vic Police’s practices regarding fuel thefts in 2013 has led to an increase in the number of fuel thefts in Victoria
  • Without sufficient data it is not possible for the LRRCSC to make substantive findings on the true nature and extent of fuel drive offs.
  • It would be inappropriate to enable legislation allowing fuel retailers to access registration data.

One of the key findings which was commonly referred to throughout the report was the lack of consistency between data provided by bodies when referring to the extent of the problem in Victoria.

ACAPMA CEO summed it up while giving testimony in September 2015 that ‘[There] appears to be a large variation in estimates of the quantum of the problem as evidence by the submission made to the inquiry. Much of this variation appears to be due to the representative nature of the sample sets used to estimate the value of fuel.’

The Committee also handed down a number of recommendations on how government and industry could work, through their respective branches, to address the increasing concern of fuel drive-offs. These include;

  • That Vic Police develop an online fuel Drive-off incident report form and a withdrawal of complaint form
  • That Victoria Police works with its officers to enhance compliance with the 2013 Instruction to investigate fuel drive‑offs where there is clear evidence of criminality
  • That the Victorian fuel industry work with its industry associations to develop an entity based on the British Oil Security Syndicate
  • That the Victorian Government work to establish an education campaign for the public on fuel drive-offs
  • That the Victorian Police conduct frequent forums with the fuel industry to discuss furl drive-offs
  • That the Victorian Police develop a guide for the fuel retail industry on preventing fuel drive-offs
  • VicRoads complete and implement their project for access to its publically available database
  • That the Victorian Government work with industry to consider measures to assist the fuel retail sector to implement prepayment systems

Throughout the consultation process there was significant concern raised by various members of the fuel retail industry, and their relevant industry associations on the role Police played in the prevention of fuel drive-offs in Victoria. While to committee found that there was insufficient evidence available to tie the altered policy of the Victorian Police in regards to drive-offs and the spike in frequency of fuel theft ACAPMA is encouraged by the recommendations of the committee to facilitate a greater level of dialogue between fuel retailers and the Police.

ACAPMA also welcomes the recommendation of the committee to encourage VicRoads to make certain data available to the public, including numberplate matched vehicle descriptions and stolen vehicle/licence plate, which we believe could help fuel retailers in recouping lost revenue through fuel drive-offs.

ACAPMA will continue to maintain open dialogue with the Victorian Government and fuel retailers over the topic of fuel drive-offs and will consult with the government at the appropriate time over their recommendation to consider assistance to the fuel retail industry as it relates to implementing prepayment systems.

To read the full report please click here.

To find out more about ACAPMA’s policies please click here or contact ACAPMA on 1300 160 270.