TASMANIANS PAY MORE FOR PETROL THIS CHRISTMAS - Media Release, Thursday 21 December 2017

On top of his failure to appoint a Tasmanian minister to his cabinet this week, Malcolm Turnbull is giving another terrible Christmas present to the people of Tasmania – the highest petrol prices of any Australian capital.

According to the Australian Automobile Association’s most recent Transport Affordability Index, Hobart residents paid an average of $69.44 per week on petrol during the third quarter of 2017– compared to a national average of $64.09 per week.

This means by Christmas Hobart residents will have been forced to pay up to $386 more this year than the residents of Adelaide – the Australian capital city enjoying the cheapest petrol.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has regularly informed the Government and the public that Tasmanian petrol prices are high.

In July 2016, for example, the competition watchdog clearly stated “Launceston motorists paid on average around 12 cents per litre more for petrol than motorists in the five largest cities”.

These figures show how deeply Tasmanians are being let down on cost of living pressures by the out-of-touch Turnbull government.

Tasmanians should not be forced to pay so much more than the rest of Australia for their petrol and other basic needs, particularly when other findings by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission show the dangers of concentrated markets.

Labor shares these concerns. The ACCC findings support Labor’s calls for increased fines for anti-competitive conduct, and a completely independent market studies function for the competition watchdog.

Today, the Treasurer has requested the ACCC undertake a market study in petrol prices nationwide. Although belatedly welcome, an independent market studies function would have allowed the watchdog to investigate as soon as it saw fit – including full access to the books and backrooms of petrol companies – rather than waiting for the Treasurer to eventually sit up and take notice.

Bigger penalties deter dodgy behaviour, and some of the revenue could be directed back into the competition watchdog’s litigation budget, giving it more firepower to go after companies that flout the law.

Rather that talking big but doing little, the Turnbull Government needs to get on board and adopt Labor’s measures to protect Tasmanians at the bowser and beyond.