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Tuesday, 19 August 1980
Page: 408

Dr Blewett asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 27 March 1 980:

(   1 ) Does the Minister subscribe to the policy enunciated by the Prime Minister on 27 June 1979 of promoting the use of the available alternative energy sources, mainly natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas and coal-based electricity.

(2)   If so, is the Minister concerned at the rapid escalation in price of LPG from SI 10 per tonne in June 1979 to $252 per tonne in January 1980 and the consequent narrowing of the price differential between LPG and motor spirit.

(3)   Did the Government make formal submissions to the Prices Justification Tribunal public inquiry into prices of petroleum products (July-August 1979) which preceded the August 1979 LPG price rise, if not, why not.

(4)   Did the Government, pursuant to section 17(a) of the Prices Justification Act 1973, direct the Tribunal to give special consideration to its energy policy regarding LPG in the Tribunal's deliberations prior to the large, PJT-approved, price rise of January 1980,

(5)   Is the Minister aware of the number of LPG auto conversion businesses which have ceased operating in the past 6 months; if so, is the Government prepared to accept partial responsibility for the demise of these businesses.

(6)   Has the Government considered compensating these businesses for any financial losses resulting from the Government 's energy policy.

Mr Anthony -The Minister for National Development and Energy has supplied the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   Concern at the escalation in price of LPG led to action on LPG policy as set out in the Minister for National Development and Energy's press release of 8 April 1980. This action, inter alia reduced the basic price of LPG from S252 per tonne to $203 per tonne and provided guidelines to stabilise the future price relationship between LPG and indigenous crude oil, and therefore motor spirit.

(3)   No. It has not been the Government's practice to make formal submissions to the Prices Justification Tribunal.

(4)   No.

(5)   and (6) The Government is conscious of the commercial interest which has arisen in relation to LPG auto conversion business. A degree of commercial risk always attends new ventures and it is possible that some entrepreneurs may misjudge the market to the extent that they are forced to cease operations. It would not bc appropriate for the Government to compensate unsuccessful entrepreneurs for failure of commercial ventures.

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