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Thursday, 30 August 1973
Page: 624


Mr CALDER (NORTHERN TERRITORY) - My question is addressed to the Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory. I refer to his action in freezing petrol prices in his own electorate, the Australian Capital Territory. I ask: Who does he consider will be paying the tax on petrol? Why does he consider that those who live in one southern city should be given a very significant advantage over other people who live in far away places such as the Northern Territory, who produce much of Australia's wealth and who will be greatly disadvantaged by the Budget action of this Government? Finally, is he considering freezing petrol prices in the Northern Territory and/or referring the matter to the Northern Territory Legislative Council or both? .


Mr ENDERBY (Minister for the Northern Territory) - I am indebted to the honourable member for the question. It is an interesting point of view that seems to state that action producing lower petrol prices in one area is to be condemned because of a failure to take similar action in other parts of Australia. As recently as this morning the Minister for Education in the New South Wales Government, representing the Minister for Labour and Industry in the New South Wales Government, was heard to complain that my action in freezing petrol prices was some kind of discrimination and that if something was not done about it he would have to take appropriate action. I hope that he would. I would invite him to take the same sort of action as we have in the Australian Capital Territory and reduce petrol prices in New South Wales. If I can 'be forgiven for taking this opportunity, realising that these proceedings are being broadcast, let me tell people who live in other parts of Australia that they should write to their members, Premiers and Ministers and urge them to do exactly what we are doing in the Australian Capital Territory. I would invite all people listening to the radio broadcast from the Australian Parliament to do just that. They should write to Sir Robert Askin, the Premier of New South Wales, or write to the Premier of Victoria and complain, saying: 'If they can do it in the Australian Capital Territory why can you not do it in New South Wales? Why can it not be done in Victoria? Why cannot the Premier in Queensland do it?'

The honourable member and I are mutually concerned about the Northern Territory. He will appreciate that decisions in that area are matters for the Administrator's Council. At my suggestion, as far as I know, this matter is being considered in the Administrator's Council. My power in the Northern Territory is different from my power in the Australian Capital Territory. The Legislative Councillors that the honourable member referred to are represented on the Administrator's Council. If they want to do the right thing, let them do it. Unfortunately they are members of the same party as the honourable member and are less enthusiastic about doing, and less prone to do anything about reducing prices in the Northern Territory than this Government is. I suggest that the honourable member use his influence with Country Party members of the Administrator's Council, which sits in Darwin, and persuade them to do what we are doing in the Australian Capital Territory. If that happens, well and good; I would hope something of the same kind would happen.


Mr Ian Robinson (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - How about taking the tax off.


Mr ENDERBY - That is a striking commentary on attitudes expressed by members of the Country Party. As a result of the action of this Government in Canberra every day 3,000 or 4,000 patients obtain medical care cheaper than do patients in other parts of Australia. The honourable member does not want that to happen. He criticises it and he rejects it. We know where his friends are. As recently as the other day, as I understand it, the honourable member for Gwydir, a former Minister for the Interior, was quoted as being critical of the Prices Regulation Ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory. There is no doubt that implicit in his statement is loyalty to the oil companies. I have nothing against the oil companies. That was implicit in what he said.


Mr Hunt - It was not. That was not the point. I understand that you do not like the Ordinance.


Mr ENDERBY - The suggestion that it be disallowed reflects the real loyalty. I come back to this point: I am indebted to the honourable member for the Northern Territory for giving me the opportunity to say that good government can produce an answer to the problems of inflation.







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