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Tuesday, 8 August 2006
Page: 15

Mr SWAN (3:07 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. I refer to the Treasurer’s numerous assurances that the ACCC is constantly monitoring petrol prices to ensure that consumers are not being gouged by oil companies. Treasurer, is it the case that according to a letter from the ACCC Chairman, Graeme Samuel, this price monitoring is limited to collecting incomplete data from oil company websites and filling in the gaps with six-month-old data? Treasurer, do googling and six-month-old data constitute effective monitoring? Will the Treasurer now instruct the ACCC to engage in formal price monitoring to enable them to demand and collect relevant data?

Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) —The ACCC monitors the daily average retail prices of unleaded petrol, diesel and automotive LPG at 3,600 sites across Australia. Under a new arrangement which I have announced today, E10 will be included in the ACCC’s price monitoring program. There is daily monitoring of 3,600 sites across Australia. From memory, there are around 6,000 sites in Australia, so that is nearly 50 per cent of the sites—although, as I say, I am going from memory. There are 3,600 sites and they are put up on the ACCC website.

Mr Swan —So the answer is no, is it?

Mr COSTELLO —I don’t even remember what your question was, old son.

Mr Swan —Mr Speaker, on a point of order: the Treasurer cannot possibly be relevant. He does not know what the question was.

The SPEAKER —There is no point of order.

Mr COSTELLO —The point is that the shadow Treasurer could not possibly be relevant, because no-one cares what his questions are. I will table a statement which has been produced by the ACCC in relation to petrol prices.

Mr Swan —Mr Speaker, on a point of order that goes to relevance—

The SPEAKER —There is no point of order on relevance. The Treasurer is answering the substance of the question.

Mr COSTELLO —I will table for the benefit of the House and both sides of the parliament the prices from the International Energy Agency data on petrol, ex tax and with tax, in the countries of the OECD. It shows that there is a remarkable uniformity in the ex-tax price right across the OECD, that the only substantive variation is in relation to the tax component and that the tax component in Australia is the third lowest in the OECD after the United States and Canada—meaning that in the relevant quarter, which I believe was the March quarter, the price in Australia was up around $1.30, compared with countries such as Norway, where it was about $2.70, and the United Kingdom, where it was about $2.20. I will also table the release I put out in relation to daily average retail price monitoring at 3,600 sites across Australia—and I invite members of parliament who want to access that information to look at the ACCC’s website.

Mr Fitzgibbon —Mr Speaker, I invite the Treasurer to table also the wholesale prices of petrol in Australia and the terminal gate prices for petrol in Australia. I know he will not, because he does not have the—

The SPEAKER —The member for Hunter will resume his seat. If the member for Hunter wishes to raise another question, he will do so in the proper course.