Griffith University researchers have reported promising early results from the first 12 months of the Queensland Fuel Price Reporting Trial (QFRT).
Their independent interim report found a small decline in average daily prices of unleaded, premium unleaded and E10 petrol in most regions of Southeast Queensland.
The report estimates the trial has saved consumers about $10 million in Brisbane and about $14 million in Southeast Queensland per year.
Lead author Associate Professor Parvinder Kler from Griffith Business School says they also found a significant increase in the spread of fuel prices.
“We found some evidence of greater competitive pressure in more urban centres such as Brisbane, Ipswich, Gold Coast and Logan after the trial was implemented.
“The use of fuel apps that have near live price information could also help motorists in regional areas such as Townsville, Rockhampton, Bundaberg and Cairns save given they can shop around.
“Minimum prices for fuel and maximum prices have fallen allowing motorists to make savings at the bowser. We interpret this spread of prices to motorists actively seeking the lowest prices.”
He said Brisbane motorists filling up at the minimum price could save about $179 per year while Gold Coast and Ipswich residents could save $139 annually at the pump.
“Our next report will look at price surges and price leaders whenever a new fuel price cycle starts and we’ve found evidence of retailers operating in a systematic manner in the greater Brisbane region,” Associate Professor Kler said.
The two-year QFRT requires fuel retailers to report their fuel price changes within 30 minutes to the Queensland State Government, which then makes the data freely available to app and web developers, allowing consumers to shop around.
Fuel price comparison apps popular with Queensland motorists
The Griffith report also found the uptake of fuel price apps was widespread across all regions, but is largely centred in urban areas and mostly used by younger people.
An RACQ survey found when comparing pre and post trial periods the number of users of fuel prices apps have increased by 250% between 2017 and 2019. Motorists also reported an increase in the satisfaction of accurate fuel price reporting.
Griffith University has been engaged by the Queensland Government to provide an expert independent assessment of the QFRT and will deliver a final report in 2021.
An assessment of the Queensland Fuel Reporting Trial (February 2020) is available online.