As regular readers know, I am for the information provision that FuelWatch is going to provide. But what of the requirement that petrol stations fix their prices for 24 hours? Where did that notion come from?
It appears that it was because it was done in Western Australia and we have been able to evaluate the impact that scheme. That is a reason but is it good enough? After all, the WA scheme can be improved upon. Moreover, there is a good theoretical reason why 24 hours is a long time: petrol stations like to change their prices over the course of the day. In addition, by adhering to 24 hours, we can’t do things like asking retailers to fix prices but for decreases as they would all end up nominating a high price and not, in effect, fixing anything.
What if we required prices to not increase for an hour? Whenever the station changed its price it would send it in to the authority who would post it. Other than that if the minute handed passed 12, it would be presumed that the current price could not be increased for the next hour. This would make enforcement possible but also allow for intra-day prices changes. Put simply, I think the government needs to do better than simply replicating the WA scheme.