Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 26 February 1980
Page: 338


Mr KEATING (BLAXLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the Prime Minister aware that the shrinking disparity between the price of liquefied petroleum gas and petrol, which is now inhibiting the conversion of vehicles to LPG, is directly attributable to the fact that the Australian oil price is now lagging import parity by up to $5 a barrel and that, under the Government's policy, LPG is priced precisely at the full world parity price? Does the Government intend to follow through its world parity pricing concept by raising the Australian oil price to the true world price so that the normal gap between LPG and petrol will be re-established, or will the Government achieve this by the alternative of abandoning its high-priced export parity LPG pricing policy?


Mr MALCOLM FRASER -The thrust of the honourable gentleman's question seemed to be that he would like the price of oil on the Australian market to go up even further so that there would be a greater differential between the price of petrol and the price of liquefied petroleum gas. The honourable gentleman has said very plainly that a tax that he would place on the oil producers would raise more revenue than the Government's levy. It would appear that under the honourable gentleman's policies the price paid by Australian motorists would be higher than it now is. The honourable gentleman knows quite well that he is on record as saying that his proposed resource tax on the oil producers would raise more revenue than the present levy. Under those circumstances, it is nonsense to suggest that the price would be lower because -

Opposition members interjecting-


Mr MALCOLM FRASER - If the honourable gentleman were to squeeze the oil companies in that way there would be no exploration and if he were to squeeze -

Opposition members interjecting-


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The right honourable gentleman will resume his seat. There is far too much interjection from my left. I ask honourable members on my left to maintain the dignity of the House.


Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) - Get him to tell the truth.


Mr SPEAKER -The honourable member for Newcastle will withdraw.


Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) - I ask for your assistance, Mr Speaker.


Mr SPEAKER -The honourable gentleman will withdraw without qualification.


Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) - I did not say anything offensive.


Mr SPEAKER -The honourable gentleman will withdraw immediately.


Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) - I withdraw, Mr Speaker, but the facts are that the Prime Minister should tell the truth.


Mr SPEAKER -I warn the honourable member for Newcastle. I ask him to withdraw immediately without qualification.


Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) - I withdraw.


Mr SPEAKER -The honourable member will stand in his place and withdraw.


Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) - I withdraw.


Mr Hayden - Mr Speaker,I take a point of order. Is it proper for the Prime Minister to be provocative by pursuing conduct which in another place would be called dishonesty? He is misrepresenting the honourable member for Blaxland. I am not accusing him of it; I am saying what would happen in another place. It is completely unreasonable for the Prime Minister of the nation to resort to such a cheap, tacky trick.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. The honourable gentleman well knows that there is no point of order. The honourable gentleman is arguing the issue. There is no basis, under the Standing

Orders, for him to do so. I ask him to comply with the forms of the House.


Mr MALCOLM FRASER -Mr Speaker,when the Opposition has no argument, it resorts to making allegations which are totally groundless. So that the point may be completely and properly understood, I shall quote to the House an extract of an interview by Mr Ross Gittins of Mr Keating. Mr Gittins asked:

Would the resources tax raise more or less than the oil production levy?

That refers to a resource tax on the oil producers. Mr Keating replied:

I think it would probably raise more.

Mr Gittinssaid:

That sounds to me as if a resources tax is just a different version of a branch of the tax office at every petrol pump '.

Mr Keatingreplied:

Well, it is to some extent.


Mr Keating - Mr Speaker,I take a point of order.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! A point of order has been taken. The right honourable gentleman will resume his seat.


Mr MALCOLM FRASER -Mr Speaker,how many points of order that are not points of order are going to be allowed in this Parliament?


Mr SPEAKER -I call the honourable member for Blaxland on a point of order.


Mr Keating - Mr Speaker,I had the opportunity of vetting that interview. The Prime Minister should quote the full sentence.


Mr SPEAKER - There is no point of order. The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.


Mr Keating - Mr Speaker,on a point of order, I just ask the simple question: Does the Government intend to follow through its world parity pricing concept? That is the question, and I want an answer.


Mr SPEAKER - There is no point of order and the honourable gentleman knows it. The honourable member for Blaxland will resume his seat.


Mr MALCOLM FRASER -The Government remains committed to oil parity pricing because it is the only policy which will look after the future interests of this country. The oil price is fixed on Saudi Arabian light crude. We know quite well that the Government announced in June of last year that there would be some flexibility in the flowing through of those price increases to the Australian consumer. It has been normal, while the policy has lasted, for the price adjustments to be made about January and about June. Therefore, the fact that the $2 price increase did not flow through a few weeks ago was very natural and if the honourable gentleman had any capacity to look ahead I think he ought to have been able to foresee that. It does not represent any breach in the Government's oil parity pricing policy which, let me repeat, is important in a number of respects. It is important to achieve adequate conservation of a scarce resource. It is all very well for the honourable gentleman to say, as he does, that he will take whatever the price is when Labor comes to government- which it never will- and then only put it up in accordance with changes in the consumer price index or in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries price, whichever is the lesser. Under a Labor government that would probably be the OPEC price increase because Labor's inflation would be higher than the OPEC price increase.

Opposition members interjecting-


Mr MALCOLM FRASER - Honourable gentlemen opposite do not like it very much because they know quite well that that is the kind of circumstance that their policies would create. Under those circumstances, the honourable gentleman is quite misleading when he tries to suggest to the Australian public that the Labor Party would offer cheap petrol to the consumers of Australia, because it would not. Indeed, cheap petrol for Australian motorists would be a very selfish policy because it would mean that this generation of consumers would use up more than its fair share of a scarce Australian resource. I do not believe that the Australian electorate will support a policy that says: ' We are going to use up all the oil that is available to us; we are not going to leave any oil for our children '.

In addition to that, of course, major developments would not get under way unless there were oil parity pricing policies. The experiments that are now being undertaken- the pilot studies in relation to the liquefaction of brown coal and in relation to the development of the Rundle shale oil deposits- just would never move ahead.


Mr Keating - Mr Speaker,I rise to a point of order. I asked the Prime Minister a simple question about liquefied petroleum gas. I do not want a lecture about resource economics. I want an answer about LPG.


Mr SPEAKER -There is no point of order.


Mr MALCOLM FRASER -The honourable gentleman also asked a simple question about oil parity pricing and is getting a simple answer in relation to it. Unless there is oil parity pricing, significant developments that will add very greatly to Australia 's liquid fuel reserves will not take place, whether they be pilot plants for the liquefaction of brown coal, experimentation with black coal or major developments at Rundle which we hope will be able to move forward in the foreseeable future. Development in these areas is dependent upon there being a price for oil which makes those particular projects viable, which makes those particular projects economic. That, of course, is of great importance in the Government's overall pricing policies and in making sure that Australia achieves a level of self-sufficiency for the future. That is our intention and that is what we are going to do. The main thrust of our policies will certainly be continued.







Suggest corrections