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Petrol retail reform six years too late for motorists and retailers.



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Senator Kate Lundy Shadow Minister for Manufacturing and Consumer Affairs

Martin Ferguson, MP Shadow Minister for Primary Industries, Resources and Tourism

Wednesday, 8 December 2004

PETROL RETAIL REFORM SIX YEARS TOO LATE FOR MOTORISTS AND RETAILERS

It has taken the Howard Government six years to meet its 1998 election promise to finalise and adopt an agreed Oilcode prior to repealing the Sites and Franchises Acts.

Minister Macfarlane’s claim yesterday that the Oilcode has been blocked by the Labor party since 1999 is simply untrue.

Six years ago, Labor said it was not opposed to the repeal of the two Acts, but that it would not support their repeal until the Government first adopted an agreed Oilcode.

In addition, Labor condemned the Government for:

· Failing to tackle the abuse of market power issue the Acts were designed to address; · Failing to provide an open terminal access regime to provide real competition at the wholesale level; · Failing to protect the jobs of those who run and work the 4,000 service stations that could close as a result of the repeal of the Acts; and · Failing to address the enormous price differentials between metropolitan and country fuel prices.

That remains Labor’s position today.

Labor supports in principle the repeal of the Sites and Franchises Acts subject to the Government introducing an agreed Oilcode first and satisfactorily addressing “abuse of market power” issues.

Labor has consistently said it accepts the ACCC’s conclusions on the shopper docket schemes and that, on that basis, Labor would not move against them.

However, Labor is equally committed to the survival of the independent petrol retailers and a competitive sector for consumers - particularly in light of a drop of 30% to the price of crude oil over the past 5 weeks - savings which have not been passed onto consumers.

With fewer and fewer players in the sector, it is more imperative than ever that we have a strong and robust Trade Practices Act and an ACCC with real teeth.

This government must get serious about strengthening s.46 to deal with the growing potential for abuse of market power at the expense of the consumer, the independent sector, small business, and the Australian economy.

Contact: Adina Cirson - 0418 488 295 or 02 6277 3334 or Tracey Winters - 0407 099 104