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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13416


Mrs GRIGGS (Solomon) (17:16): In February this year, I spoke in this place regarding my community's anger and dismay about petrol prices in Darwin and Palmerston. I have been actively campaigning for a full investigation into petrol prices in my electorate. This morning the ACCC released their report into petrol prices in Darwin. I would like to put on record my thanks to the community and to the media who pushed and called for the ACCC to come and investigate the fuel pricing issues we had in the Northern Territory. I welcome the report, but it highlights that there is still more work to be done.

The ACCC found that, during 2014, Darwin petrol prices were amongst the highest in the country. They showed that, compared to other capital cities, Darwin residents were paying, in many cases, more than 10c a litre more during the period from June 2012 to 2014 than they had over the previous decade. The decrease in the number of independents in the Darwin market in recent years, combined with weak retail competition, led to higher profits. The report focused on the need for improved transparency in the Darwin market—and I note prices fell substantially in 2015, during the period of the ACC investigation, to below the average price paid in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. I note that the Deputy Prime Minister was in Darwin during this investigation and he said that petrol prices were certainly cheaper in Darwin than they were anywhere else in the country. That was something we had never before been able to claim.

Increased transparency and promotion of effective competition are the way forward. The ACCC's findings will enable the Northern Territory government to continue to consider policy measures that promote not only increased transparency but also greater competition—for example, through the encouragement of new entrants into the petrol market. I know that Platinum Petroleum have just come into the market. They have said to me that they are working with the taxi company and are going to be aggressive in the marketplace, which means petrol will be cheaper for Territorians. I will be writing to the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory to ensure that this important issue is considered and acted upon. I know that his government has been doing some work around this. It has certainly led the charge, so thanks to them for their support on this very important issue as well.

I would also like to welcome the Northern Territory government in considering its options to encourage more competition and transparency into the Darwin retail market to enable residents of Darwin to get a fair deal when they fill up at the petrol pump. As I said, there has not only been a lot of work done by the community, but also by the media outlets. We had NT News, 104.9 and Channel Nine work very extensively on a campaign to try to get fuel prices lowered. In actual fact, they were awarded an award on Saturday night at the NT Media Awards because of the outstanding work they have done in this area.

While I am on the subject of the NT Media Awards, I would also like to advise the House of a couple of other people who won some awards on the night. The NT News chief of staff, Ben Smee, had a great night. He was named the 2015 Northern Territory Journalist of the Year. Ben and his colleague Christopher Walsh jointly won the Gold Award for Excellence in Northern Reporting. Ben also won the Print/Text Best News Coverage for his 'Cash for access' story. The Print/Text Best Feature Writing award was won by Amos Aikman for his work, 'Of smoke and haze'. Amos is the local The Australian representative in Darwin. The Television/Radio Best News Coverage award was won by Kate Wild from the ABC for her story on Port Melville. The Television/Radio Best Broadcast Interview award was won by Kate O'Toole, who also works for the ABC, for her collection of interviews.

The Television/Radio Best Current Affairs or Feature award was won by the outstanding journalists Jane Bardon and Franco Pistillo from the ABC. Photographer of the Year was won by an extraordinarily talented man, Glenn Campbell, from Territory QMagazine. Best News Camerawork of the Year was won by Callan McLaughlin from Channel Nine. He is an extraordinary young man and I was very pleased to see him win that award as well. All Media Best Online Coverage was won by the NT News Online Group. Rachel Hancock, who is the editor, spoke on behalf of Maria Billias, Zach Hope and Michael Franchi. That award was won for their Cyclone Tracy expose. There was some tremendous work that was done in the commemorations of Cyclone Tracy. This award was actually jointly won by James Purtill and Eleni Roussos from ABC, whose work was also around Cyclone Tracy and stories from survivors, so it was moving work that they had presented.

The All Media Best Scoop—the Newsbreaker award—was won by James Oaten from the ABC for his work around the Norther Territory's Labor president, Matthew Gardiner, leaving Australia to take up the fight against ISIS. The All Media Best Environment/Innovation Reporting award was won by Jane Bardon from the ABC in relation to her story, 'Achieving action: Glencore and regulators forced to address Gulf pollution'. The All Media Best Sports Journalism award was won by Jordan Gerrans from The Centralian Advocatefor his story 'Violence in Central Australian Football League in Alice Springs'. The All Media Magazine of the Year award was won by Off the Leash. As I said, the Gold Award for Excellence in Indigenous Reporting was actually sponsored by the Australian government, and I was able to present that on behalf of Senator Scullion. Unfortunately, Amos Aikman, who was the winner, was not there on the evening, but it was good to acknowledge him anyway. As I said, Ben Smee, the chief of staff of the NT News, won the Gold Award for Excellence in Northern Reporting. The Pete Davies Memorial Campaigning Journalism Award is the one I referred to earlier, and that was jointly won by the NT News, Nine News Darwin and Mix 104.9 for their combined efforts in the fuel pricing campaign in my electorate. The gold award for Marchbanks Young Journalist of the Year 2015 was won by the ABC's Ruby Jones. As I said, the Journalist of the Year for 2015 was won by Ben Smee from the NT News.

On the night it was fantastic to see such young, talented people being acknowledged for the great work that they do. We politicians do not always feel like we get a good go, but I am really proud of the talented journalists that we have in the Territory, and their support staff. On the night there was some talk about the NT News because we had had the Prime Minister in Darwin and he talked about the NT News and said he was very proud of the wonderful work that the NT News does. That was in contrast to the Leader of the Opposition, who came to Darwin as well—he was there on the Monday. He held a media conference and he had Channel 9 and ABC there, but he forgot to invite the NT News. If you want to get a story up in the Territory, you need to include the NT News. The Prime Minister acknowledged that, and Barack Obama is now going to be subscribing to the NT News. Bill Shorten, if you want to know what is happening in the Territory, please, when you come, invite the NT News. They are a good paper; they are a reputable paper; they know what is happening in the Territory.