On the 16th of March 2017, the Hon. Nicole Manison MLA (NT Treasurer) conducted a second reading of a new Legislative Amendment Bill designed to further increase the transparency of fuel prices in the Northern Territory.

The proposed legislation contains two elements that will directly impact on fuel retailers in the NT.

First, fuel retailers will be required to report price changes to the NT Government every time they occur along similar lines to the NSW Fuel Check Initiative.

Second, the legislation will prohibit the display of discounted fuel prices on fuel price boards. Fuel retailers will still be able to offer discounts but the prices displayed for all products must be the price before any such discounts are applied.

Thankfully, the NT Government has elected not to copy the NSW Government’s onerous fuel price board regulations.  Instead, the Government has opted for a ‘light touch’ model that is similar to regulations operating in both South Australia and Victoria (Queensland has also indicated an intent to introduce similar Regulations later this year).

The NT Government’s decision to progress the legislation at this stage is a little surprising given that it comes so soon after calling for submissions on the proposed legislation and, as far as we are aware, the responsible Department has not provided any feedback on the submissions that were made”, said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie.

Nonetheless, this latest development is simply part of a relatively lengthy process for developing and introducing the new laws.

The real work starts with the design and drafting of the supporting Regulations that will give force to the new laws. This is an area where ACAPMA expects there to be significant consultation with the fuel industry.

“Our hope is that the NT Government works cooperatively with the fuel industry to design a regulation that minimises compliance costs by taking full advantage of existing industry price monitoring schemes”, said Mark.

“Failure to do so, risks introduction of a costly scheme that will potentially work against the stated interests of the NT Government by increasing the complexity and cost of fuel retailing fuel in the Territory – costs that will ultimate pass through the NT Motorists”, Mark continued.

Recent experience with the NSW Fuel Check scheme also suggests that there is a need for the NT Government to ensure that it provides sufficient administrative resources to avoid the situation occurring in NSW – where, more than six months after introduction, we continue to experience problems with the completeness of the service station data sets and the accuracy of some of the fuel price data that is reported.

Once the legislation is formally approved by the Parliament, the NT Government proposes to finalise the draft Regulation later in the year.

The new Regulations are scheduled to come into force from 1 November 2017.

Members wishing to obtain further information about the status of the new laws are encouraged to contact the ACAPMA Secretariat on 1300 160 270 or send an email to communications@acapma.com.au.