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Wednesday, 16 August 2006
Page: 7

Mr IAN MACFARLANE (Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources) (9:24 AM) —I thank those members who have contributed to the debate on the Petroleum Retail Legislation Repeal Bill 2006. I hope we will see agreement to this bill that will remove two pieces of legislation that, as previous speakers have said, have become outdated and ineffective. The success of the Oilcode will provide all industry participants with a national approach to terminal gate pricing, set a minimum standard for a wider range of contractual arrangements, and provide access to downstream petroleum dispute resolution schemes. A new approach to terminal gate pricing will provide a transparent regime that will ensure that all customers, including independents, can access terminal gate pricing information and have the option to buy petroleum products on a temperature-corrected basis at the terminal gate. Improvements to tenure arrangements for common agents and increased disclosure requirements will benefit small business participants. The Oilcode’s dispute resolution scheme will provide a low-cost and rapid means of addressing disputes as an alternative to legal action. These changes are likely to lead to increased competition in the sector, with the potential for positive impacts on fuel prices, particularly in rural and regional areas. Development of the downstream petroleum reform package, including the Oilcode, follows extensive consultation over the past four years with industry associations, industry, consumer groups, state and territory agencies and relevant Australian government portfolios. I would like to thank all of those who have provided valuable input into this process.

I will speak for a moment about the amendments proposed by the member for Batman. He has moved some amendments requiring government action on alternative fuels. While he is one of the opposition’s more progressive members, he is behind the times on the issue.

Mr Martin Ferguson —Don’t you shake.

Mr IAN MACFARLANE —I would have said that anyway, but they’ve written it in here. We like his policy on uranium and particularly on nuclear energy—

Mr Martin Ferguson —What about flow-through shares?

Mr IAN MACFARLANE —We should not digress. No government ever has done more to support alternative fuel than ours and we are now seeing results. By 5 pm last night, the AusIndustry hotline had fielded some 3,800 calls from motorists looking for information on the LPG initiative that the Prime Minister had announced the day before. Yesterday, BP announced that it was increasing ethanol sales in Queensland, with a projected target of an eight-fold increase.

The Australian government is keen to offer as many choices as practical to the motorist. We believe that these reforms to the retail petroleum sector will aid those choices and help make them more affordable to motorists. We cannot support the opposition’s amendments, which serve no purpose. We commend the bill to the House.

Question put:

That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Martin Ferguson’s amendment) stand part of the question.