Wednesday, 13 September 2006
Petroleum Retail Legislation Repeal Bill 2006
I move Family First amendment (1) on sheet 5033:
(1) Schedule 2, page 4 (after line 13), at the end of the Schedule, add:
6 At the end of section 51AE
(7) The Oilcode must specify that where a wholesale supplier as part of the supply of the declared petroleum product:
(a) discounts the terminal gate price; or
(b) supplies or offers to supply a declared petroleum product at a price other than the terminal gate price;
the wholesale supplier will make available to the public each day on an Internet website maintained by or for the wholesale supplier:
(c) the price or prices including the amount of any discount and other individual components in relation to each particular price; and
(d) the criteria to qualify for the price or prices including any discount in relation to a particular price or individual component of each particular price.
Note: The terminal gate price is defined in the Oilcode.
Given that yesterday we went through quite a few amendments to this bill to make sure that we had more competition, not less, we need to make sure that independent service stations, predominantly smaller businesses, have the ability to see exactly what price they can buy at and what conditions they need to meet to buy at those prices. So this amendment from Family First is about disclosing product discounts, not about stopping discounting. This amendment is about making sure that all the purchasers, including independent service stations, know exactly what conditions they would need to meet to buy at a particular price. So this amendment is about having full price transparency.
I understand that the government may argue that the Oilcode requires the terminal gate pricing to be disclosed, but this issue is about disclosing discounts and making it quite clear to anyone wanting to buy petrol exactly what conditions or criteria they need to meet to get certain discounts. Rather than allowing discounts to be hidden and not shown, this is about making sure we have an open and level playing field for all service stations, including independents, so that they know what they have to do to get the very best discounts. Knowing the role that independent service stations play within the market in keeping prices low, I think this is extremely important. Family First wants to make sure that a structure is set up such that independents can survive. One of the ways they can survive is by being able to understand what discounts are being given by suppliers of petrol and knowing what conditions they would have to meet in order to achieve the same level of discounts.
In the last week we have heard clearly about how independents are buying at a level that is already higher than what other retailers are selling at, and they do not understand how that can happen. One way of addressing that is to have transparency of pricing, not just the terminal gate price but the discounted price. Independents need to be able to survive—their backs are already against the wall—and they need to understand exactly what criteria they need to meet to purchase petrol at the best possible price.
The amendment that Family First is putting forward would make sure that the wholesale supplier will make available to the public the price or prices, including the amount of any discount or any other individual components in relation to each price and—which is very important—the criteria to qualify for the price or prices, including any discount in relation to a price or individual component of each price. This is a common-sense amendment, as were yesterday’s, but again with this one I appeal to the Senate, I appeal to the government, to think about what is happening to independents and the important role they play in the market in keeping prices low.
I was out talking to someone at an independent service station this morning and they were sharing with me how important it is to have independents out there to make sure that there is more, not less, competition. They have played a very important role in discounting and a particularly important role in allowing alternative fuels, such as ethanol. It would be wrong for Australia and this parliament not to ensure that independents can survive on a level playing field. I notice that the Comcars now have petrol cards for independent service stations. I would have to check whether senators and members also have such access. I have a petrol card for Shell, Caltex and BP, but I do not have one for independents. I am not sure how it would work; I would have to check. It is just that I have noticed that Comcars are able to buy from independents and buy the ethanol blends they have. This amendment is all about ensuring that independents understand the conditions they have to meet to get the very best price. It is fair and reasonable that they are able to do this. I appeal to all senators to support the Family First amendment.