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Fuel grant raises more questions than it answers.

Fuel Rebate Raises More Questions Than It Answers


Joel Fitzgibbon - Shadow Minister for Small Business


Media Statement - 27 March 2000


"The Government's proposed GST fuel rebate for the bush raises more questions than it answers", Shadow Minister for Small Business, Joel Fitzgibbon, said today.


"The Government's proposed rebate is an admission that the people living in the country will pay more GST than their city cousins because it will be levied on higher retail prices in rural and regional Australia. Yet the Government is offering no such compensation on other goods consumed in country areas.


"Furthermore, through the proposed rebate system, Australian taxpayers may find themselves subsidising the profits of the major oil companies. It is well known that higher petrol prices being experienced in the bush cannot be explained on the basis of transport costs and volume throughput effects alone. Large gaps between city and country prices are too often the result of the major oil companies taking excess profits where they can get away with it.


"A rebate based on boundaries is sure to create anomalies as one town falls within the rebate region and one nearby does not. It is also likely to be an administrative nightmare for small business petrol retailers.


"Finally, the Government appears to be marketing the proposed rebate scheme as a total solution for the city/country petrol price gap. This is a policy which is aimed at maintaining the gap, not reducing it.


"The city/country price differentials we are presently experiencing and have been experiencing for decades will remain with us until the Government shows a preparedness to curtail the power of the major oil companies by legislating to introduce competition at the wholesale level of the industry.


"The Government should immediately release details of its petrol rebate to give the Parliament an opportunity to debate the issues next week", Mr Fitzgibbon said.


Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.