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Senate may reject FuelWatch -

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ELEANOR HALL: The petrol debate in parliament and the Federal Government's proposed FuelWatch
scheme looks like it may not make it through the Senate.

The Government is relying on a report by the competition watchdog the ACCC to explain the benefits
of the petrol price monitoring scheme.

But the Opposition insists the report is not a ringing endorsement of FuelWatch and some Coalition
senators are signalling that they will vote against Labor's plan.

But the Prime Minister says he is buoyed by mixed messages coming from the Coalition's ranks.

As Alexandra Kirk reports from Canberra.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: For days now the Prime Minister's been under pressure on petrol prices.

But he's still adamant the price monitoring scheme, now operating in Western Australia, should be
rolled out nationwide.

KEVIN RUDD: We've never seen this as a silver bullet. We've said it will help with competition at
the margins giving information to motorists, so they know where the cheapest petrol lies in their
city on a given day.

And looking at the data over time in the West Australia experience, it delivering something like
two cents on average less a litre, cents per litre less over time.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Government MPs like Jim Turnour from Cairns are on board.

JIM TURNOUR: I've only heard support within the government in relation to FuelWatch.

This is a practical fully costed measure. The community's looking forward to its introduction.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But Liberal backbencher from Western Australia, Don Randall, says his experience is
that FuelWatch doesn't deliver cheaper petrol.

DON RANDALL: All I know is fuel in Western Australia is dearer than probably anywhere else in
Australia and I went deep into my electorate on the weekend, they were paying $1.62 a litre for
fuel and they're not happy.

So he's got a problem and he's the Prime Minister and he's got to do something about it because
he's getting a very bad reaction from the people who thought that he had some answers and he told
them he had answers before the election and he hasn't.

In fact on this issue having said that he can't do any more, I think he needs the white feather

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Both sides are using a report by the competition watchdog to back up their
arguments. The Prime Minister says the ACCC's report endorses the scheme.

But Opposition Treasury Spokesman Malcolm Turnbull, says a proper reading of the report shows

MALCOLM TURNBULL: The ACCC report does not recommend FuelWatch. It raises serious concerns about
the operation of FuelWatch, it's possible anti-competitive effects, potential for a reduction in
the predicability of price-cycles.

And it goes on to say that it would not be possible confidently embark on a FuelWatch scheme
without a detailed assessment addressing those and other issues.

The truth is that the ACCC made a lot of recommendations in its report but FuelWatch was not one of

ALEXANDRA KIRK: According to Liberal senator Julian McGauran, the fate of Kevin Rudd's FuelWatch
plan is sealed.

JULIAN MCGAURAN: Pre-June 30, we'll knock it back, we control the Senate and wont hesitate.

REPORTER: So you've decided that you won't support FuelWatch in the Senate?

JULIAN MCGAURAN: Well, it looks like it.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Fellow Liberal senator David Bushby's on board.

DAVID BUSHBY: The way it operates in WA we think probably actually puts upward pressure on prices,
it certainly doesn't put downward pressure and I doubt that we'll be supporting anything which will
put upward pressure on petrol prices for Australians.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But there's a chink in the Coalition's armour.

Western Australian liberal senator Judith Adams says FuelWatch has made people in her state aware
of the cost of fuel, which she thinks is a good thing.

JUDITH ADAMS: I think FuelWatch is working

REPORTER: You think FuelWatch should be supported?

JUDITH ADAMS: As far as I'm concerned as I've said I've been used to it in Western Australia and
for me it makes me think about what the price of fuel is, so that's it.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Yet another Liberal senator Eric Abetz is hedging his bets a little.

ERIC ABETZ: We have to look at exactly what the legislation says but at this stage we are minded to
believe on all the evidence including the ACCC's view that FuelWatch is anti-competitive and as a
result motorists will be worse off.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Malcolm Turnbull's indicating the Opposition will block one part of the

MALCOLM TURNBULL: What we are going to do is oppose the key part of FuelWatch which is the
controversial part which is that which sets prices or requires that prices be fixed 24 hours in

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Opposition's leader in the Senate Nick Minchin says no decision's been made yet
it's waiting to see the legislation, which he says could be months away.

Kevin Rudd's making the most of the uncertainty in opposition ranks.

KEVIN RUDD: What's happened today with the three ring circus, that is the Opposition.

Because in this period this morning we've had another several new positions put forward by the
Liberal party so we have the Liberal party saying FuelWatch is working fine in Western Australia.

The Liberal party in the Senate saying they're going to block it in todo, Mr Turnbull, the
alternative treasurer saying they're going to accept part of it and reject the rest of it and Mr
Nelson not taking a position.

Where does the liberal party stand on FuelWatch?

ALEXANDRA KIRK: From July when the Government needs all five greens senators plus two more to get
its legislation through the Senate, there's still no sign it will be any easier. Greens Senator
Christine Milne is keeping Kevin Rudd guessing.

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well first of all the FuelWatch scheme and Brendan Nelson's proposal to reduce the
excise are nothing more than populist petrol politicking in the face of what is a national and
global crisis.

As to this particular proposal in relation to the FuelWatch scheme, the Greens need to be convinced
that at worst it does nothing and at best it actually does allow people some transparency and does
get us the cheapest price that we can and I'm yet to be convinced of that through the ACCC report
but I'm intending to read it carefully before it comes to the senate.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's Greens Senator Christine Milne ending Alexandra Kirk's report.