THE head of Australia’s consumer watchdog says petrol prices in Tasmania should drop by around 25 cents a litre in the coming weeks.

The impact of the coronavirus crisis on the international oil market is seen as a silver lining for Australians.

Oil prices have plunged by more than 20 per cent amid a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia and concerns that the coronavirus outbreak will see demand for energy falling as people cut back on travel.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair Rod Sims said the lag time between an international oil price drop and the flow-on impact at the bowser was usually two to three weeks.

“Hobart, like a fair bit of Tasmania, has for a long time paid too much for petrol,” Mr Sims said.

“Your prices at the moment are $1.55 give or take a bit. The big if is if the international oil price stays down at the current levels for a number of weeks, does the Hobart petrol price come down to say $1.30?

“That will be very important to watch, we will be keeping an eye on that and I think trying to call that out.

“Australia imports its oil, so a lower price of oil is a good thing for Australia and we want to make sure that benefit gets passed on rather than being grabbed by the petrol retailers.”

During a visit to Hobart this week, Mr Sims also outlined his agency’s priorities in 2020.

The funeral industry, the pricing and selling practices of essential services and misleading health claims on food labels are all on the ACCC’s agenda.

The ACCC is also engaged in action against state-owned company TasPorts in a test case for the nation’s amended misuse of market power provision.

The Federal Court proceedings allege that TasPorts, in 2017, tried to stop a competing marine pilotage and towage business from entering the market by denying it berths and refusing to place it on the shipping schedule.

Extracted from The Mercury