The opposition to allowing supermarkets to discount fuel to the degree they would prefer was based on the perceived need to protect petrol retailers which are independent of the supermarket chains – presumably the ACCC thinks that once these have been knocked out the supermarkets like stereotyped dumpers of goods, will jack up the prices to retrieve their losses. Such outcomes have never been documented and are inconceivable in the rugged competitive Australian retailing environment.
Former head of electricity regulation in the UK, Stephen Littlechild reports that they too have the disease whereby institutional regulators prevent consumers gaining price advantages. Littlechild notes (correction) that OFGEM is powerless to prevent Tesco from offering 20p a litre discounts on petrol but prohibits themoffering comparable discounts on electricity or gas. He blames this cockeyed judgement that the consumer is harmed by lower prices on the fact that OFGEM no longer has an economist at its hierarchical apex.
Maybe, but the quality of economists is not what it used to be – most are trained in how to distort economies and have no concept of consumer sovereignty or the catallaxy of markets. And in any event, the Chairman of the ACCC claims to be an economist and has around him coteries of people in the energy advising roles with similar such claims.