Will the End of Australia’s Fuel Subsidy Create a Petrol Price Hike?

Next week, the nation’s fuel-subsidy-scheme tap is getting twisted off. That’s right, from September 29, our country’s 22-cent discount on petrol taxes will be no more. 

According to the ABC, the Federal Government has refused to extend the shelf life of this programme.

Naturally, this has got a lot of folks rather concerned. If you’re not an oil barren, you probably don’t want the price of a litre to rocket to the moon. After all, we’re currently in a gnarly as heck cost of living crisis. It would be devastating if a drop of petrol was the same price as our $5000 chicken eggs

However, our nation’s Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, doesn’t believe that there will be an immediate price hike. In a press conference, he stated, “Industry estimates that there’ll be more than 700 million litres of lower excise fuel in the system when the fuel excise is reintroduced. This is 700 million reasons why the price shouldn’t shoot up by the full 23 cents on the night that the excise relief ends.”

He then went on to explain, “We’ve been working closely with the servos and suppliers to understand that there are hundreds of millions of litres of fuel underground in tanks that was purchased at the lower price.”

Moreover, Chalmers declared that petrol is 50 cents per litre cheaper than it was during some dark moments in July. When the policy was triggered, it was always intended to be a temporary measure to deal with high costs. Although that’s less of an issue now, it’s never going to be popular to raise fuel prices.

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What is the ACCC’s Take?

Now, it’s all well and good for Chalmers to make these claims. However, it’s his government that’s inherited this policy from the previous one, meaning abandoning the fuel subsidy programme is a decision he needs to sell. It wouldn’t be completely out of pocket to suspect Chalmers of trying to massage this news.

Fortunately though, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is on the same wavelength as the treasurer. The ACCC’s Chair, Gina Cass-Gottlieb, noted, “We will shortly be engaging with fuel wholesalers and retailers to say that we do not expect to see uncharacteristic or abnormal wholesale and retail price increases in the days leading up to, and on the day of, or after, the reintroduction of the full rate of fuel excise.”

Cass-Gottlieb also said, “Petrol stations must not make false and misleading statements to consumers about the reasons for any price increases. We will not hesitate to name retailers should this happen, and the ACCC can take appropriate enforcement action.”

However, the ACCC did somewhat telegraph that this situation could change for the worse. “Motorists are reminded that prices will continue to fluctuate with changes in international prices and the exchange rate, as well as petrol price cycles in the five major capital cities,” expressed Cass-Gottlieb. “Our monitoring and analysis will assess and report on all factors influencing retail prices.” 

“The ACCC will continue its weekly reporting to consumers about what is happening to fuel prices and when to find the cheapest fuel.”

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