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Thursday, 28 March 1985
Page: 1118


Mr GOODLUCK(4.18) —I thank my good friend the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Ian Cameron) for allowing me an extra two minutes for my remarks. I also wish to thank the Government Whip. I will continue on the subject of petrol pricing. The honourable member for Maranoa mentioned the bush. It is not only people in the bush who are suffering. People in other States are suffering as a result of increases in petrol prices. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Kerin) said this was the fault of the Fraser Government. That Government brought in parity pricing for two reasons-namely, future exploration and also finding alternatives to petrol-for example, using liquefied petroleum gas and other ways to fuel a motor vehicle.

I see the Minister for Science (Mr Barry Jones) is present in the chamber. I point out to him that I believe we have a responsibility to try to find alternatives to petrol. For example, a new fleet of cars is now serving Parliament. It includes Ford LTDs and cars with V8 engines which are driven by petrol. They travel some 16 miles to the gallon. Those vehicles could easily be converted to LPG. Canberra has magnificent roads and those vehicles travel on the flat all the time. There is only a reduction in power of about 10 per cent associated with the use of LPG. This would present a wonderful opportunity to conserve our petrol and change over to the abundant LPG that exists in this country. The Japanese are laughing all the way to the bank. We export about 80 per cent of our LPG to Japan. They are loving it. Here the poor consumers of Australia, particularly in my State of Tasmania, are paying 55c a litre for petrol.

We talk about tax summits, having more money in our pockets and so on, but the most important aspect is fuel. It costs the average worker about $5 to $6 a week just to go to work. We have a unique opportunity to try to do something about petrol. I was one who at the time of its introduction debated the question of parity pricing. I was worried about the position because I knew Australia wanted to be self-sufficient. I do not want to be dependent on the Arabs or on other countries for our fuel. We were 75 per cent self-sufficient and had a margin of 25 per cent to make up. But let us face the fact that the base was not right. There was a disunity in petrol pricing through Australia. There was not parity anywhere, we did not have the base right.

I saw a report today which said that in 1975 the price of petrol in New South Wales was 15c a litre; in Tasmania it was 20c a litre. The point is that the base was wrong, so how could one introduce import parity pricing when these things were not organised in Australia? We have a unique opportunity today to do something about the price of petrol. I hope that the Government includes that item in the summit. As the Treasurer (Mr Keating) said when he was in Opposition, it was stealth at the petrol pump-a way of getting taxation without people realising it. If those words were true then, they are true now. I hope he includes petrol in the summit and starts talking about petrol prices. I hope that the Opposition will push this matter harder than it has.

Question put:

That the words proposed to be added (Mr Sinclair's amendment) be added.