ACCC chair Rod Sims said the fall in oil prices was a clear benefit to Australian motorists given most of the nation’s liquid fuels were imported.
He said the current drop should see bowser prices about 20 cents a litre lower than if there had been no change in global oil prices.
Mr Sims cautioned that the fall in the Australian dollar, which on Monday slipped below US64 cents, would offset some of the impact, while the usual cycles in cities such as Melbourne and Sydney meant people would not immediately see a drop in prices at the pump.
He promised the ACCC would go public with its concerns if companies failed to pass on the fall to motorists.
“We’re going to call it out quite a bit,” he said. “That always seems to have a bit of an impact.”
CommSec chief equities economist Craig James said in some markets, prices could fall as low as $1 a litre depending on the pricing cycle in those cities. The drop would deliver a much-needed boost to consumers that could be even better than a cut in mortgage interest rates.
“Arguably the lower petrol price could prove more stimulatory. Many home buyers have responded to recent rate cuts by electing to pay down debt at a faster rate rather than use savings to engage in retail therapy,” he said.
Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said many consumers needed the financial relief provided by a drop in petrol prices.
“The petrol retailers in this country should not be taking us for mugs by hanging on to these substantial reductions in the fuel price,” he said.
“We all call on them and this is not a political issue. Every member of Parliament calls on the petrol retailers to do the right thing, to pass on these price reductions, to make sure that Australian motorists get the benefit of these price reductions.”
Shane is a senior economics correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.