Tasmania’s main motoring body is calling for legislation to ensure greater petrol price transparency as it moves to end its own Fuel Watch service.

The Fuel Watch section of the RACT’s website and its Fuel Watch twitter feed will be shut down on July 19.

RACT general manager member assist Darren Moody said due to a recent competition law case, it can now only buy price data from about half of Tasmanian petrol retailers.

“We’re restricted to Coles, Woolworths and BP in the data, and there are obviously a number of major retailers and there are a whole raft of independents that we aren’t getting prices from,” he said.

“So we don’t see that providing between 40 and 50 per cent of available retail prices is enough information for Tasmanian motorists.”

The RACT would also be forced to publish the data on a secure website or smartphone app, to prevent so-called “free riders” from accessing the information and changing their prices.

“That meant that the fuel prices that we buy would no longer be able to be displayed on our website freely, and the cost for us to get that data would increase,” he said.

The changes have come about as a result of an undertaking secured by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) from the business Informed Sources, which collates and publishes price data from major petrol retailers.

Last year the ACCC took legal action against Informed Sources, alleging that because petrol retailers had access to the price information before it was made publically available, this had the effect or likely effect of substantially lessening market competition.

Under the deal struck between Informed Sources and the competition watchdog, price information will now be made publically available in real time on the MotorMouth website which is owned by Informed Sources.

Third parties like the RACT which purchase the price data may only publish it on secure websites and apps.

Call for state legislation on petrol price transparency

The RACT wants the Tasmanian Government to legislate to force all petrol retailers to publish their prices online in real time.

Mr Moody called on the State Government to follow the lead of New South Wales, which introduced petrol price transparency laws earlier this year.

“We would like to see a similar model introduced in Tasmania, such a system could be accessed online in real time by consumers,” he said.

“It would allow consumers to make decisions based on information that should be readily available in this day and age, and protect motorists against potentially anti-competitive behaviour.”

The ACCC is expected to publish a report on petrol prices in Launceston before the end of this month.

The probe was launched in May last year after complaints from northern Tasmanian motorists that petrol prices in the city were on average 12 cents a litre higher than in capital cities interstate.

The ABC has sought comment from the ACCC, the Tasmanian Government, the Australian Institute of Petroleum, and the Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association.

Extracted in full from ABC News.