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Thursday, 21 August 1980
Page: 586

Mr CADMAN (MITCHELL, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs aware that since oil companies were informed of the Government's intention in the field of petrol retailing there have been a number of reports of leases being cancelled and retailers being forced to change their operations to company controlled sites? Will the Minister undertake to have pending legislation made retrospective at least to the day of his announcement? Also, will the Minister make it known to oil companies operating in Australia, most of which are foreign based, that the Government wishes them to conform with the spirit of Australian law as well as meeting the minimal legal requirements?

Mr GARLAND (CURTIN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister Assisting the Minister for Industry and Commerce) - The Government views with the greatest concern the reports reaching it that some oil companies may be terminating certain existing retail petroleum leases in an attempt to avoid the forthcoming franchise protection legislation. 1 believe that a number of members of parliament have received reports and allegations of such conduct by certain oil companies. If they are true, this conduct is certainly reprehensible and irresponsible, in view of the fact that the Government has spent nearly three years in constant consultation with oil companies and dealer organisations in an attempt to solve the serious problems associated with the retailing of petrol in Australia.

As the House knows, the Government is on the point of introducing legislation to deal with franchising, price discrimination and partial divorcement. In part, the legislation has been the subject of exposure; a draft Bill was exposed. The policy for this and other elements has been the subject of extensive discussion and consultation with oil companies and dealers and the Government has given every opportunity for discussion of voluntary measures designed to provide a reasonable solution; but, I regret to say, without a serious response. I will certainly be studying these complaints and the situation. I will have them examined within the Government to see what further action can be taken, if necessary, to ensure that the Government's intentions are not circumvented.

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