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Tuesday, 22 February 1977

Mr HOWARD (BENNELONG, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs) - The honourable member, as is his wont on occasions, used some very colourful language about people being taken to the cleaners. The petrol consuming public of New South Wales are being taken to the cleaners at the present time through the existence in that State of black bans by the Transport Workers Union on the delivery of discount petrol to discount sites. There is some legislation before this Parliament which might have some consequence in that regard and I will be very interested to see whether the honourable member for Hawker votes in favour of that legislation. I will be very interested to see what attitude the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions publicly takes to that legislation, given the professed concern of the Party he leads for legislation to ensure effective competition. This is a situation were the President of the ACTU does not wear 2 hats- he wears 3 hats, because his organisation has a commercial interest in the methods and the practices of marketing petroleum not only in Victoria but also in New South Wales. The fact is that ACTU-Solo Enterprises is itself a victim of that very same black ban. So one will await with some interest the attitude that the Opposition takes and more specifically the attitude that the President of the ACTU takes on this legislation.

The honourable member knows, as indeed do other honourable members on this side of the House who have taken a very deep interest in the problems of petroleum marketing, that I have over the last 4 weeks had lengthy discussion with representatives of re-seller organisations throughout Australia and with representatives of every major oil company throughout Australia, and that on Friday I will be meeting representatives of ACTU-Solo Enterprises. This Government has a deep commitment towards a marketing policy which will provide the Australian consumers with petrol at the lowest possible price. The petroleum industry is a very complicated mechanism. An understanding of the nature of the petroleum industry and the policies which are required to bring about the cheapest possible delivery of petrol to the Australian consumers are not assisted by extravagant rhetoric of the type indulged in by the honourable member.

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