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Wednesday, 17 November 1976

Shell Australia has launched a scathing criticism of the findings of the Royal Commission on Petroleum.

In an unprecedented move the company has produced a 100-page booklet which describes the report as 'factually incorrect' and 'analytically inept'.

The commission's fourth report on the marketing and pricing of petroleum products, by Mr Justice Collins, was critical of oil companies marketing methods.

One of its central recommendations was the setting up of an agency to regulate investment and distribution in the industry.

Shell said the report was a disappointing work, not based on the evidence on record before the commission.

Symbolically, its very title is a misrepresentation', Shell's booklet says.

I read a very interesting article in the Newcastle Times concerning Mr Kevin Gosper, the general manager of marketing for the Shell Co. of Australia. The article reads:

Mr KevinGosper, the general manager of marketing for Shell Co. of Australia, criticised yesterday the varied forms of investigation into the Australian petroleum industry in recent years.

Addressing Newcastle Business Men's Club, Mr Gosper referred to the recent royal commission on the marketing and prices of petroleum products.

He said it was not usual for a company that had already submitted its evidence to such an inquiry to find it necessary to issue its own publication of explanation. This was actually what Shell had done.

Most people were aware of the massive overnight increases in crude oil prices that occurred three years ago, contributing to the development of a world-wide recession from which recovery was now being made.

These price rises, beyond the control of Australian distributors, had become the source of organised campaigns against oil companies, particularly in the United States.

The number of inquiries into the oil industry had made great demands on staffs and had been costly. It had cost his company alone $ 1 . 25m.

This program of investigation had largely been instigated in the life of the Whitlam Government, which had hardly been sympathetic to the industry.

This is a highly competitive industry and is part of the free enterprise system-

I emphasise the word ' free'- as indicated by the variable discount signs at petrol stations from Swansea to Newcastle ', Mr Gosper said.

If that is the free enterprise system for which I came into Parliament, I am a little alarmed. Many of the poor service station proprietors in the Newcastle area are finding it difficult to compete in the market place. This is something at which this Government should look very closely.

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