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Labor's petrol policy more important than ever.



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MEDIA RELEASE

AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY

Joel Fitzgibbon MP

Shadow Minister for Mining, Energy and Forestry Member for Hunter

23 August 2004

LABOR’S PETROL POLICY MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER

The ACCC’s decision not to intervene in a NSW petrol terminal dispute makes Labor’s petrol reforms more important than ever.

Independent fuel importer Trafigura will lose its Sydney terminal to Shell on September 1, leaving NSW without an independent source of petrol supplies and undermining the capacity of the independent fuel sector to compete.

Along with rising oil prices and the growing market power of the major oil companies, this gives new urgency to Labor’s 6-point petrol plan. The survival of the independent sector is critical to maintaining competition in the petrol market.

When the ACCC approved the merger between Caltex and Ampol, the sale of the then Ampol-owned Sydney terminal was made a condition of the merger to maintain market diversity. The leasing of the terminal to Shell will unwind that

condition.

Labor’s plan to keep petrol prices down includes:

• Amending the Trade Practices Act to guarantee independent wholesalers and retailers access to fuel supplies from the terminals of the major oil companies on fair terms.

• Allowing independent wholesalers and retailers to bargain collectively when seeking fuel supplies from the terminals of the major oil companies. • Outlawing predatory pricing under the Trade Practices Act (TPA) and strengthening Section 46 (Abuse of Market Power). This protects the

independents against the market power of the big companies. • Giving the ACCC the power to issue ‘cease and desist’ orders to provide immediate relief against market abuse and anti-competitive behaviour.

• Granting courts a new power to order the divestiture of assets and impose gaol terms to tackle cartels and the worst cases of market abuse. This is particularly important given the nature of the petrol industry.

• Establishing a “Yellow Card” system, so the ACCC keeps a register of bona fide complaints of misuse of market power to be used for assessing penalties for proven breaches of the Trade Practices Act. If these measures did not prove sufficient to alter market behaviour, criminal penalties and larger pecuniary penalties would be introduced.

ENDS

Contact: Joel Fitzgibbon 0418 293 372 www.joelfitzgibbon.com