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Tuesday, 4 March 1980
Page: 485

Senator MESSNER (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs whether the Minister's attention has been drawn to an article appearing in today's Adelaide Advertiser headed: 'Government won't curb oil companies'? Does this article refer to a letter from the Prime Minister to Senator Jessop indicating that implementation of the Fife proposals to establish divorcement of the operation of petrol refiners and service station proprietors is impractical and represents a course which the Federal Government is reluctant to follow? Does this indicate that the Government intends to take no further action other than that outlined in the draft Petroleum Retail Marketing Franchise Bill 1980 currently circulating in the community?

Senator DURACK (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Attorney-General) - The Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs informs me that his attention has been drawn to the article referred to by Senator Messner. The Government has not reached a final decision on any aspect of the proposals relating to petrol marketing. In October last year it decided to prepare for public exposure and comment the draft franchise Bill. The Minister has released that Bill for public comment. The Government has asked for comments to be submitted by 3 1 March of this year. The Government also decided last October to defer a decision on both other aspects of the proposals, that is price discrimination and a possible prohibition on direct retailing of petrol by oil companies. The Government decided to request the Trade Practices Commission to conduct a survey into the extent of price discrimination. It is expected that that survey will be completed on 30 May. In the light of the report of the Trade Practices Commission and of public comment on the draft Petroleum Retail Marketing Franchise Bill the Government will then consider the matter and reach a decision on all aspects of the proposal, including the question of divorcement.

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