Supermarket giants will be banned from displaying discounted fuel price boards outside petrol stations, under new regulations proposed by the Andrews Labor Government.
Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Jane Garrett said the new regulations will improve transparency and protect motorists from confusing information as they make decisions in traffic.
“The Andrews Labor Government is introducing new fuel price board regulations so all motorists get a fair deal at the bowser,” Ms Garrett said.
“We want to make sure consumers aren’t being lured in to petrol stations by ‘cheap’ prices which are conditional on a shopper docket.”
Under the regulations, to be introduced later this year, Victorian petrol stations will only be able to advertise the full price of fuel to motorists.
Currently, some service stations display discounted fuel prices which are only available to consumers if they have specific shopper dockets.
Under the new regulations, operators will still be able to advertise the special offer – such as 4 cents off fuel – but they will not be able to list the dollar amount on price boards.
Similar laws have already been introduced in New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland since 2013.
David Dowsey, head of marketing and media at the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC), which represents more than 5000 automotive businesses in Victoria, told C&I Week the legislation will provide an “even playing field” for independent fuel retailers.
“We welcome the announcement and we congratulate the Andrews Government for the initiative which will better protect millions of Victorians. We think the current system is confusing for consumers and this will now add clarity once installed.
“Importantly for independent fuel retailers this will help develop an even playing field in terms of advertised fuel prices. Having this competition in the fuel retail market is great for motorists and we think it will keep the supermarket operators honest,” Mr Dowsey said.
Caltex Australia said it had welcomed the opportunity to be involved in the Victorian Government’s industry consultation process regarding its proposed changes to fuel price boards.
“The government has taken a pragmatic approach that will help minimise the additional operating costs to be worn by fuel retailers,”a Caltex spokesperson said.
Woolworths said the supermarket would continue to offer fuel discounts to consumers in its supermarkets and service station stores.
The RACV said the changes would cut confusion on the road and make it fairer for all motorists who try to find the best deal for fuel.
“Since the arrival of discount fuel vouchers motorists have had to deal with confusing and differing fuel price boards at the front of most service stations,” RACV general manager public policy Brian Negus said.
“This move banning the display of discount prices creates greater transparency and allows motorists to more easily determine the ‘real’ price at a quick glance when driving past.”
All key stakeholders will have the opportunity to review the new regulations before May 30. They will take effect on December 1.