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Tuesday, 21 August 1984
Page: 15


Senator JACK EVANS —My question is addressed to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Following the successful prosecution of the Mobil oil company for contravening the Trade Practices Act by putting pressure on a Perth suburban petrol station proprietor to increase his petrol prices, will the Government again consider the Australian Democrats' proposal to divorce petrol wholesale distribution from petrol retailing? As in this case the service station was leased by Mobil Oil to the proprietor, does the Minister appreciate that the control of retail outlets by the oil companies enables the companies to keep prices high, as evidenced in this case by the statement by Mobil's Western Australian Territory Manager that 'Shell are trying to get the retail price up to 38.9c and Mobil will look as though it is not conforming to Shell's attempts to raise the price'? Does the Minister not agree that this makes divorcement of the petrol wholesaler from the petrol retailer an absolute necessity?


Senator BUTTON —The Government will not in the immediate future be reconsidering the suggestion made by the Australian Democrats that there be total divorcement of retail petroleum sites from the petroleum companies. Prior to Question Time today I gave notice of a motion in relation to two pieces of legislation which are relevant to this issue. The first is the petroleum marketing franchisees legislation and the second is the petroleum marketing retail sites legislation. The legislation relating to franchisees is designed to provide a whole range of protections for franchisees of service stations which were not previously available to them. The sites legislation is designed to allocate retail sites on a different basis from the way in which they have been allocated in the past. I know that Senator Jack Evans will have the opportunity to peruse that legislation shortly. I simply say to him that it was a result of a long and detailed inquiry into the whole matter by officers of the Department of Industry and Commerce. All sections of the industry were involved in consultation and in the investigation which took place. I think the legislation represents a satisfactory outcome in respect of most of the difficult problems which have been encountered in the past.