A NATIONAL approach to fuel price boards is needed to stop drivers being misled, according to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims.
Mr Sims used his address to the Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers' Association annual conference to speak about the issue for the first time.
"Concerns have been raised that the prominent display of discounted petrol prices on fuel price boards may be misleading consumers," Mr Sims said.
"The ACCC can also see that this is an issue for consumers and we recommended that consideration be given to a national approach to fuel price boards under the Australian Consumer Law."
Mr Sims revealed the Policy Research Advisory Committee was in the process of developing a national standard for fuel price board information.
This process was a long way from being finalised, Mr Sims said, and no decisions would be made without first consulting industry stakeholders.
He said the PRAC was looking at the steps taken in New South Wales to introduce a petrol price board standard from next year.
"A feature of the proposed NSW standard is the requirement to display undiscounted prices, and no other price per litre, on price boards," he said.
Mr Sims told the conference the ACCC received about 1000 complaints about petrol every year.
A number of those calls also related to prices being higher in regional and rural areas.
Figures show petrol was four cents per litre higher in the country during 2010-11.
"Some calculate that this difference is higher than the cost of transport from the city to country areas, and they are usually right," he said.
"But prices will also reflect lower petrol country or convenience store sales and so economies of scale, and also less competition in country areas."