Caltex has broken ranks with its big oil competitors and called for motorists to have up-to-date fuel bowser prices on mobile phone apps.
The State Government handballed a decision on the idea to the SA Productivity Commission last year, which is seeking submissions from consumer groups and industry.
In its submission, Caltex says motorists deserve the information because the price of fuel is a “significant” cost of living.
“We understand that the price of fuel for consumers represents a significant regular, and necessary, cost of living,’’ Caltex head of pricing Prasad Kholkute said in a written submission.
“We acknowledge that the frequency of purchase, coupled with regular … media coverage of fuel prices, and impacts on fuel prices, result in these costs remaining front of mind for consumers, and politicians, in considering impacts to costs of living.”
The fuel industry is resisting plans for bowser price data to be collected by the State Government and published on an app, because of the cost to industry of updating the information every 30 minutes.
The defection of the second biggest fuel retail company in Australia has been welcomed by advocates of the plan, who want the State Government to make good on a 2018 election promise. RAA spokesman Mark Borlace said the petrol industry was bowing to pressure from motorists.
“What has also happened I think is that they have seen it operating now in NSW and Queensland, with Victoria about to join in, and the sun has still come up the next morning,’’ he said.
Mr Borlace said the entire fuel industry must take notice of a Bank SA report released yesterday into consumer and business pessimism, in which both groups ranked petrol prices as the worst of 28 concerns.
Mr Kholkute said in SA Caltex supplied fuel to many retailers, also directly to 196,000 customers per week, and employed almost 400 people throughout South Australia.
He said the company supported the model used in New South Wales and Queensland, but varied for SA, which allowed petrol stations 30 minutes to tell the Government of a price change.
“Caltex is of the view that a reasonable scheme could be designed for South Australian consumers which would not impose significant costs on the industry,’’ Mr Kholkute said.
Mr Kholkute said support for real-time pricing was not an admission that motorists did not have enough information about prices.
“Caltex does not believe there is a lack of price transparency in the South Australian retail fuel market, noting there is currently a number of independent, free, price comparison services … ,’’ he said.