Business still unsure about FuelWatch compliance costs

Small business service station owners have adopted a wait-and-see approach to a Government promise that FuelWatch won’t cost them money, the peak advocacy group for the sector says.

In Federal Parliament yesterday, Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen was asked to explain a Government regulatory impact statement that assessed the ongoing cost to service station owners of complying with FuelWatch at $3974 a year.

Establishing software systems to communicate prices to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, keeping price records and complying with auditing and monitoring obligations are identified as the sources of core potential costs associated with the scheme.

Bowen responded that the Government has taken the decision that small business owners will not be required to bear any of the cost of implementing FuelWatch.

“The cabinet took a decision that the implementation costs of FuelWatch for small business should be zero,” Bowen says. “The ACCC have changed the model of implementation so that there is no software to be implemented by small business. They will be able to advise of the price on the ACCC’s website. They will be able to advise on a toll-free number and they will have zero cost.”

The Government will now come under scrutiny from service station owners and the Opposition to ensure Bowen’s commitment is upheld.

Shadow small business, service economy and tourism spokesman Steven Ciobo says the opposition continues to hold to the view that the scheme is flawed and should re-evaluated.

“It’s clear from the advice from the various Government departments and the regulatory impact statement that there will be a cost to small business. FuelWatch will be bad for small and independent service station owners and verbal assurances from the Minister really don’t do much to placate fears at all,” Ciobo says.

Service Station Association chief executive Ron Bowden says while Bowen’s comments are welcome, he and his members will remain cautious until they see how FuelWatch is implemented.

“We’re expecting the Minister will honour what he said yesterday and these cost issues will be looked after, but we will be taking a wait-and-see approach until we are clear on the detail of the scheme and how it will be implemented,” Bowden says.


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