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Thursday, 28 May 1987
Page: 3488

Mr ADERMANN(12.10) —Speakers in this debate have covered all of the issues. Therefore, I do not intend to enter the debate except to ask one question. I am heartened that the Minister for Science (Mr Barry Jones) is at the table. His responses are usually helpful. I would like the Minister, in his reply to this debate, to respond to a specific question. How effective is the pricing mechanism for fuel? Oil companies go to the Prices Surveillance Authority and ask for, and apparently justify, a rise of 1c or 2c a litre. They get their rise and then within days or weeks we see a price war. I will illustrate this point by referring to the situation in my own home town. The price of petrol is 43.9c or 44.9c a litre, but the day after a price war finishes it goes to 55c or 56c a litre. This happens so frequently that it seems to make a mockery of the applications that the petrol companies put to the Authority. Would it not be better to look at the whole situation in order to get some stability and some fairness in the price? Happy as motorists are when they go to a bowser to fill their tanks in the middle of a price war, they are frustrated when perhaps an hour later they see a 12c or a 15c rise. I would like the Minister to comment on the effectiveness of the pricing arrangement, the honesty of the oil companies in putting up their applications, and the ease with which they seem to be able to get their increases. The frequency of this stupidity of price cutting seems to show that they have the capacity to provide fuel to the motorists of this country much cheaper than they are doing.