Wednesday, 28 May 2008
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism. I refer the minister to his letter opposing Labor’s Fuelwatch scheme on the basis that it is anticompetitive, will hurt small business and will slug motorists hardest in areas like Western Sydney. Yesterday, the minister said he had changed his mind, on the basis of further detailed work. Given he was not at the cabinet meeting that he considers so persuasive, what further detailed work was undertaken to prompt such a remarkable cave-in?
I thank the honourable member for the question. It is interesting that he should raise Western Sydney. I grew up in Western Sydney. My mother still lives there and so do three brothers and sisters and my nieces and nephews. Whilst I represent a seat in Melbourne, my heart is also still in Western Sydney, because that is where I grew up and was given an opportunity in life. I can assure the House and the Australian community that the challenge of oil is not a short-term problem. I correctly contributed to a cabinet process, and for me as the minister for energy it is an ongoing process. It is not something that the opposition discovers from time to time trying to play short-term political games. It is actually about overcoming years of neglect by the Howard government on what is a very serious policy debate.
Mr Speaker, on a point of order: the minister should come back to the question, which is what is the convincing evidence that he has seen that now has him supporting Fuelwatch, which he has opposed in writing.
Unlike the Leader of the Opposition, I, like Australian motorists, follow petrol prices on a regular basis, because I am concerned about their impact on ordinary Australian families. More importantly, I am concerned in trying to develop, through my national energy security assessment, a white paper on where we go in energy security and how I can contribute in a real policy debate to putting in place a real alternative fuels policy in Australia—something the Howard government neglected.