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Tuesday, 13 June 1989
Page: 3843


Senator DEVEREUX —Has the Minister for Resources seen claims that there is a high level of Government tax on the oil industry in Australia? How does this affect Australia's ranking on retail petrol prices among Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries?


Senator COOK —I have seen those claims, I saw them again at the weekend. Esso Australia Ltd yet again has commenced an advertising campaign to try to persuade the Australian people that it ought to have a reduction in tax on its production out of Bass Strait. The Government has announced that it has commenced a review of Bass Strait excise, and that that review will culminate in any legislative change, if that is necessary, to take effect from 1 July 1990. We will shortly produce a discussion paper on excise and resource rent tax on crude oil production in Australia. In relation to the general advertising campaign that is once again hitting the news stands, this Government is reviewing the matter and the review will be comprehensive. Esso will have a chance to put its views to the review. After that comprehensive review there will be a decision and, if necessary, alteration.

In terms of the question Senator Devereux has asked me, I have before me a table of OECD nations showing the cost in Australian cents per litre of petrol purchased at the bowser. Italy charges 127c per litre. Australia, according to this list, charges 51c per litre and has the third lowest prices in the list. The only other countries in which petrol is cheaper are Canada at 48c and the United States of America at 39c. Every other OECD country charges higher retail prices per litre for petroleum than Australia; indeed, the major countries are listed in the upper end of that table. In terms of the tax take that the governments of the OECD countries extract from petroleum prices, 24c is taken from the 51c in Australia, but if we go to the top of the table, of the 127c extracted in Italy, 99c comprises tax. Once again, according to this table, Australia is the third lowest of any OECD country with regard to tax take. I table this document for the information of honourable senators. It dispels the allegation that there is a high tax rate in Australia in terms of petroleum retail prices.