Petrol prices across Canberra will be displayed on a government website from today, allowing drivers to compare prices at nearby service stations.

Key points:

Under a deal struck between the ACT and New South Wales governments, the NSW Fuel Check website will now include ACT retail sites.

Fuel Check — which is also a smartphone app — updates prices in real time, factoring out discounts.

Its Canberra expansion will be trialled for six months.

However, unlike in NSW, it will not be mandatory for retailers: ACT station owners can decide whether to sign up.

Previously, the ACT government had resisted calls to introduce a price-monitoring scheme, which a Legislative Assembly inquiry had recommended in 2019.

Motoring body NRMA also regularly urged the territory to establish an app such as Fuel Check.

At the time, Chief Minister Andrew Barr argued that free websites already existed that published real-time price comparisons.

He also cited Griffith University research that showed monitoring schemes did not affect pricing in markets with less competition, such as Canberra.

However, early during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Barr threatened an extraordinary intervention, saying the ACT was experiencing a “market failure” and Canberrans were “being gouged”.

As fuel prices plummeted across the world — but failed to drop quickly in the territory — Mr Barr threatened to cap retailers’ margins.

The threat appeared to work, and prices fell.

Yet, over the past year, ACT petrol prices have been consistently higher than elsewhere — 6.4 cents more than the national average, 6.8 cents more than in Sydney, and 5 cents more than in regional NSW towns.

And prices across Australia are likely to continue to rise after federal fuel-excise relief expired a month ago.

Other factors driving petrol prices higher include international sanctions against Russia, a relatively weak Australian dollar and oil-producing nations’ recent decision to limit supply.

Website to include electric charging stations

The ACT’s energy minister, Shane Rattenbury, said the website would also display the availability of charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs).

He said this information was becoming increasingly important for Canberra drivers.

“The future of ACT motoring will be electric,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“The ACT will be reviewing i[the inclusion of] EV charging stations to the app, to keep it relevant in a changing climate and up to date with community needs.”

He hoped the information would “ease range anxiety” among EV owners.

The business minister, Tara Cheyne, said she hoped the Fuel Check roll-out would help motorists make better-informed decisions, given current cost-of-living pressures.

She urged petrol retailers to opt in and “take advantage of free price advertising and bring awareness of their location to a larger audience”.

Ms Cheyne said the government was on hand to help station owners meet their reporting obligations if they decided to sign up.

Meanwhile, NRMA executive Emma Harrington said the scheme would “make a massive difference for consumers” in Canberra.

“We have long supported transparency of fuel prices and the expansion of real-time fuel price data to the ACT,” she said.

“This is a timely initiative which will greatly benefit consumers as fuel prices remain volatile and cost of living continues to rise.”

Extracted in full from: NSW petrol price monitoring website Fuel Check expands to cover Canberra from today – ABC News