Canberra’s fuel prices are an outrage and the ACT government needs to put in place measures to stop this highway robbery.

Drivers in other states have real-time petrol price monitoring schemes to allow them to know how much they will pay before turning up to the bowser. In essence, they can choose the cheapest place and reward that location, which in turn creates a competitive market.

But the ACT government continues to refuse such a measure, and at this point, it really isn’t clear why. The chief minister has said that fuel prices in Canberra are expensive because of a lack of competition.

This argument doesn’t fly when Gunning, Yass, Queanbeyan and other smaller areas just across the border have cheaper fuel. They have fewer service stations, therefore less competition, and yet here we are.

The national capital is already an expensive place to live. Rent was recently pegged as the highest in the country. While Canberra has a small contingent of wealthy public servants, that’s not the case for the majority. The number of homeless people in the capital has doubled in five years.

If we look at cars in particular it was reported in 2018 that Canberra households spend the most on owning and running vehicles. Insurance, registration, parking fees… Canberra is the most expensive for all of them.

It’s a hard fact of life that most Canberrans own cars, and making them more expensive to run doesn’t encourage people onto public transport.

The ACT government seems to be doing their best to make the public transport system better – let’s hope light rail is the silver bullet in that plan – and hopefully more people will use it.

The work on cycle paths is well on its way to creating a city where more people on bikes can get around.

But while some will catch public transport and some will cycle, there are some of us who have to drive, and then there are those of us who simply prefer the convenience of it. For that percentage of the population, the ACT needs a government-run, reliable, all-encompassing real-time petrol price monitoring scheme.

As Blake Foden reports, it has been almost 18 years since the ACT government failed to act on an Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission inquiry that recommended the introduction of a public information system to track petrol price movements. Now is the time.

Extracted from Canberra Times