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Wednesday, 17 November 1976

Mr HOWARD (Bennelong) (Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs) - I require the debate to be extended. I would like briefly to reply to the contribution made in the adjournment debate tonight by the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck). Ever since the honourable member for Franklin came into this Parliament he has exhibited an enthusiastic interest in those causes in which he believes. He has displayed an enormous amount of interest in the future of the petroleum industry in Australia. He has displayed considerable concern for the future financial and social position of a very significant number of small businessmen in our community, the independent petrol resellers. In company with a number of other honourable members on the same side, the honourable member for Franklin has pressed on me as the Minister having some responsiblity in this area the problems which are posed for those in the petroleum industry at present. As I informed the House several weeks ago, an interdepartmental committee report on the royal commission's report has been furnished to the Government and I hope that the Government will be in a position shortly to make a decision on the recommendations of the royal commission.

I say to the honourable member for Franklin and to all other honourable members who are interested in this very complex issue that the Government is conscious of the problems facing independent petrol resellers in Australia. The Government equally though is conscious of the problems facing the petroleum industry which go much wider than those facing just one section of the industry. The oil companies are not without problems and we should not forget the right of the consumers of petroleum products in Australia to have a certain level of price flexibility which is consistent with" a competitive arrangement in a market of this nature. However, I can assure the honourable member for Franklin that the interest he has displayed in this area is noted by the Government. The cause that he argues is a very understandable one and one that will be given careful consideration by the Government when decisions are made on the future marketing practices of this important industry.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Giles -Order! The debate having concluded, the House stands adjourned until 10.30 a.m. tomorrow.

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