Sunday, 20 April 2008

Watching the FuelWatchers

K-Rudd's 2020 summit is all over bar the shouting, and it'll be interesting to see the fallout over the next few days.

In a successful political move for the week leading up to the summit, a successful distraction has been achieved in the form of the proposed FuelWatch scheme.

The proposal, for those living under rocks with their fingers in their ears, is that vendors will be forced to publish their petrol prices a day in advance, and then stick to that published price for the whole day.

The benefit to motorists is clear. Those inclined to spend the time can fill up today if the price is going to rise tomorrow, and work out where the cheapest petrol is before heading out to do it.

But this whole thing has been interesting for a few reasons.

First, as alluded to above, the timing was clearly intended to distract the Federal opposition from attacks on the 2020 summit. And it worked.

Second, the naysayers of the scheme (who, predictably, are the ones who have the most to lose from it) have precisely zero decent arguments against it, yet keep pretending loudly that they have.

And finally, I'm surprised more people aren't pointing out that it's just an exercise in futility. It's rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

All the FuelWatching in the world isn't going to stop the price of petrol from going up. And up. And up.

Watch out for the milestones . . . There'll be headlines when it hits $2. Then $3. Before very long the purported 2c-per-litre saving from FuelWatch will be laughably immaterial.

But I suppose it's good to get all this stuff out of the way now. There'll be a bit more of this playing around the edges, but eventually it'll be realised that no more can be shaved off the price.

Eventually it'll be understood that the days of the petrol-powered car are numbered.

And eventually, we'll realise that we need to start seriously thinking about what the hell we're going to do then.

I wonder if they covered that at 2020.


Spoon said...

It's always fascinated me that petrol prices are so changeabls. I can't think of one other consumable whose price changes multiple times in a day, simply because the wholesale price fluctuates. Milk, fruit, gold. All these things would have diaily fluctuating wholesale prices, but they don't manifest themselves in the form of constantly changing retail prices. I'm sure an economics boffin could explain it to me, but I'm also pretty sure I wouldn't listen.