ntnews (source) :
A 10 CENT per litre fuel spike across Darwin wasn’t how Treasurer Nicole Manison wanted to herald the arrival of the NT Government’s new petrol price tracking website.
Fuel prices sat around $139.9/L on Wednesday, a sharp increase on a week ago.
The government’s $250,000 MyFuel NT website is supposed to keep petrol prices down, but instead it Wenesday copped the blame for driving up prices on its first day of operation amid allegations of collusion by fuel companies.
The government has referred the increase to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Ms Manison said she saw “no justifiable reason” for the leap.
“I would hate to think the fuel companies have increased the price of petrol because we’re trying to give Territorians more information about how they can find the cheapest petrol and make better decisions about where to fuel up,” she said.
Under the MyFuel NT initiative, it is mandatory for fuel retailers to report changes to their prices immediately.
That information is then available to motorists on the website.
“It’s about ensuring that we keep the pressure on fuel prices and make sure we never see it creep back to what we saw many years ago, which was that Darwin fuel companies were playing well above the national average when it came to profits.,” Ms Manison said.
“They were going well above what was happening nationally and Territorians were gouged at the bowsers for years.”
Opposition Leader Gary Higgins said the project was a waste of money.
“Publishing real time fuel prices actually helps retailers to effectively fix prices by following the price signals from the larger companies,” he said.
‘Because all retailers have an incentive to charge the highest possible price, they all follow the leader, resulting in dramatically higher prices at the pump for Territory drivers.”
AANT operations manager Eden Bell said while the price jump was “unusual”, prices in other jurisdictions increased at the same time.
But he said he expected prices to fall again as the fuel market moved through its normal three month price cycle.
Consumer Affairs commissioner Gary Clements said outlets that fail to comply with reporting requirements could face a $13,000 fine.