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Costello points the nozzle at John Howard.

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Hon Stephen Martin MP

Federal Member for Cunningham

Shadow Minister for Small Business and Customs

Shadow Minister for Sport and Tourism


21 July 1998




“Small business has been left standing besi de an empty petrol pump whilst Costello turns his attention to undermining John Howard,” said Shadow Minister for Small Business, Stephen Martin.


Mr Martin today slammed the Costello petrol deregulation plan as ill-thought out and a kick in pants for small business. Mr Martin said that the Costello plan walked away from the commitments given to the petrol industry by both the Minister for Small Business and the Minister for Industry.


On 7 May 1998 the Minister for Industry, Mr John Moore, was quoted in the AFR to have:


“Rejected calls for an immediate deregulation of the petroleum industry, preferring to wait until the handing down of a report on the Government’s proposed new mandatory code.”


“Mr Costello’s petrol deregulation plan makes a mockery of John Howard’s image of the champion of small business. This plan is nothing more than a cynical attempt to buy out disaffected regional voters at the expense of small business. Even BP admitted in a letter to the Prime Minister on 24 December 1996 that the abolition of ACCC price surveillance would not lead to cheaper petrol:


“In our view, of itself this will not lead to lower prices. However, there is now a strong expectation in the public’s mind that there will be reductions in the price of petrol. We do not share this expectation and believe it raises false hopes.”


“A gridlock will continue between the oil companies, Service Station Australia (SSA), the MTAA Motor Traders Association of Australia, the Australian Institute of Petroleum (AIP) and the Australian Petroleum Agents and Distributors Association. Issues which have not been resolved, which was the purpose of an agreed Oilcode, include: the coverage of the code and whether petroleum resellers should be included, the degree of involvement of the franchise councils, whether the determinations should be binding, the tenure of service station dealers and the time frame for dispute resolution.


“The Howard Government’s response to the Fair Trading Inquiry also included a commitment to a mandatory underpinning of the Oilcode through the Trade Practices Act (TPA). Although there are new sections in the TPA, sections 51AC, 51AD and 51AE, the Oilcode has not been finalised, has not been agreed to by the key participants and does not offer a skerrick of protection for small business,” said Mr Martin.


Contact: Cassandra Gelade 02 6277 4363 or 0411 691 495