GasBuddy grant raises competitor's concerns

The owner of an Australian fuel price application company has questioned why the state government provided $60,000 to establish GasBuddy in Tasmania.

Last month the RACT announced it would partner with GasBuddy to deliver fuel prices to consumers’ phones – allowing them to shop around for the cheapest supply.

But Andrey Firsov, the owner of Sydney-based company PetrolSpy, questioned why the state government provided a $60,000 one-off grant to GasBuddy, which already operated in Tasmania prior to the funding.

“I can’t see what there is to spend money on,” Mr Firsov said.  

“It’s a really strange deal.”

Mr Firsov’s PetrolSpy app has been operating in Tasmania for about three years.

He said GasBuddy was established in the state about one year ago – raising questions about the funding grant’s purpose.

"There was no need for them to do anything to develop it,” he said.

A state government spokeswoman referred the details about the expenditure of the grant to the RACT.

“It was the RACT’s decision to choose the company GasBuddy, so it’s best to talk to them,” she said. 

“The Tasmanian Government has provided a one-off grant to the RACT to support a crowd-sourced fuel price app.”

An RACT spokesman said the company received a proposal to partner with GasBuddy. 

“The [$60,000 government] funding was used for testing, updating and promoting the app in the Tasmanian market,” he said. 

“The RACT and the government had been exploring options for some time to provide better fuel price transparency to Tasmanian motorists following the ACCC report into the Launceston fuel market.” 

Mr Firsov said he was not anti-competition, but said the state government should be supporting Australian companies rather than an American one. 

“We have all the same features that GasBuddy has – we have quite a number of users,” he added. 

He estimated PetrolSpy had about 1000 users across Tasmania. 

According to the latest data available Launceston’s average price of fuel was 140.3 cents-per-litre for the week ending April 9.

That compares to a slightly higher state average of 140.7 cents-per-litre but a much lower national regional average of 128.6 cents-per-litre.