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Thursday, 31 May 1984
Page: 2233


Senator COLSTON —I ask the Minister for Resources and Energy whether there has been a recent decrease in the price of liquefied petroleum gas due to a different pricing policy adopted by the Commonwealth Government? If so, what is the nature of the decrease? Should the price of LPG at all service stations have decreased? If so, what can be done about those outlets which have retained the old price?


Senator WALSH —Senator Colston is primarily concerned with the prices of automotive LPG, and there are different prices for LPG for other purposes. So far as automotive LPG is concerned, the price was reduced by almost $60 a tonne on 1 April this year. That is equivalent to 3c a litre, in round figures. Retail prices of automotive LPG ought to have fallen by that amount, after, I suppose, the stocks which were already being held had been disposed of, which should be a matter of weeks only. So by now any retailer of automotive LPG should certainly have reduced the price by the order of 3c a litre.

Senator Colston asked what can be done about the outlets which have retained the old price. I believe-I will have this checked-that the Prices Surveillance Authority would have a watching brief over that question. I will have that checked out with the Treasurer. I think it ought to be noted that, as a result of the policy decisions announced just before the end of March, LPG prices will not in future be subject to the very substantial fluctuations to which they have been subject in the past. The price will be adjusted on a six-monthly basis-in October and April-which, for a number of reasons, is a more satisfactory time to adjust it than July and January. It will be adjusted in accordance with either the movement in the fuel and light component of the consumer price index or the average monthly export parity price commencing from April 1984. So even if there are wild fluctuations in world prices, those fluctuations will be evened out in the Australian price.

Finally, the decision announced by the Government at the end of March has been extremely well received in general and in particular by local government authorities. The member for Eden-Monaro, Mr Snow, passed on to me quite recently a letter from a local government authority in his area, which is appreciative of what the Government has done and in particular the timing of future price changes, if any, and the relative stability which the new policy has brought to the price of LPG.