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Tuesday, 12 September 2006
Page: 13

Senator JOYCE (1:22 PM) —I move amendment (1) on sheet 5045:

(1)    Schedule 2, page 4 (after line 13), at the end of the Schedule, add:

Trade Practices Act 1974


One thing that we have seen in the chamber today is that everybody seems to have a great desire to protect small business. They believe in it. Now it is a matter of putting that desire into effect. We have gone through a number of amendments that have been trying to control from the top down—that is, putting controls on sites and suchlike. But this amendment says that we should look at what is actually there at the moment as being part of the independents, the family businesses—the businesses that we intend to support. Our rhetoric is that we believe in and support the right to be in business. According to the Motor Trades Association, who I have been in consultation with, those types of businesses represent about 25 per cent of the volume at the moment. What this amendment is doing is quarantining the section of the market that is currently being used for that section that we want to protect.

BP, Caltex and Shell put their hands on their hearts and say: ‘We have got no intention to ever remove those families from those businesses. We have got no intention to go into their area.’ If that is the case then this will not worry them, because it is no more than stating their status quo. The other 75 per cent can do what they like. They can have all the rearrangements they like. This amendment says to the Australian people that we believe there is a section of this market which must be left behind—if we say that we are a government that believes in small business. It does not cross paths with the ACCC; it purely and simply talks to a section of the market that we want to quarantine.

People have asked, ‘Why a month?’ They have said, ‘It is going to be outrageous—every month!’ Not really. You have to find some sort of time frame in which to deal with these issues. You could say a year. But you do not have to worry about anything monumental at the moment, because currently we are abiding by that. There are no problems whereby they have to go to the market now and change it. It does not make any prescriptive comment about who is what, who is going to have a competitive advantage, which of the oil majors is going to leave and which is going to follow. It does not talk about them at all. They have 75 per cent of the volume of the market to deal with.

I am going to read my tea leaves here: I do not think the Labor Party are going to support this. I think they are going to come up with another reason not to support it. I think they are right on board with the bill. But it is going to be fascinating to hear what they have to say—’Why this time?’—about why they are not going to when they have got a chance of actually doing something. I wonder if they have been got at. I wonder if someone has had a little knock on their door. Today the Labor Party have actually got a chance to achieve something. They have always talked about the outrageous power in the Senate, saying that it is this and it is that and it is something else. For once in their life they have got the chance to do something about it and they are going to fold. We can see that coming today. Today is their chance, today is their Waterloo. It just goes to show that the knock on the door has happened: ‘Hey fellas, you are going to fall into line.’ We know that all the other times it is just Labor Party theatrics before a Labor Party fold.

It is going to be fascinating for the people in the gallery today to see what Labor are really like. Never again listen to Labor’s rhetoric about the extremism in the Senate, about the Senate being out of control, because they are part of the problem. They will fall into line today. It is going to be marvellous to watch. The big boys have knocked on your door and you are going to do what they tell you to do, because that is your job. Around about question time, you will go back to your old rhetoric, expecting people to believe you, and they will not. After this, they will fail to believe you on virtually anything. What you will show is that you are an absolutist power in the Senate, that you believe in the rights of big business to reign supreme, that you do not believe in small business and that, when you get the chance to make your mark, you fold.

It will be interesting today to see who are the so-called backdown people. Who will be the doormats today? I hope that we get the voices on this one, because I want to see them drawn out. I want to see what it looks like to see some doormats cross over to protect their mates in the big oil companies. That is what you will be doing, because they have got your number.