The government has instructed its consumer watchdog to “bust open the books of petrol companies” to stop price gouging at the petrol pump.
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been given the power to monitor the prices, costs and profits relating to the supply of petroleum products and related services in Australia for the next two years.
Treasurer Scott Morrison said motorists need to be assured that petrol companies are playing fair and not hiking prices simply because it is the holidays.
“Our expanded direction to the ACCC will mean the watchdog will be better able to drill into the claims petrol companies make for price increases, such as the source of supply and quality of fuel sold in Australia and the impact of international prices and taxes,” he said.
Watchdog allowed to seize information
Mr Morrison said the ACCC would now be able to investigate the petrol industry in more depth than before.
“Previous regional market studies, while useful in understanding the drivers of high prices in regional locations, were providing diminishing returns for consumers as the ACCC found similar factors were driving high prices across different locations,” he said.
“The government’s new direction has been broadened to allow the ACCC to compulsorily obtain information from companies that provide a service to the industry, such as independent terminal operators, but which are not directly involved in the supply of petroleum products.”
The ACCC will publish quarterly reports, starting in the first three months of 2018.