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I would not be surprised, now that it is on the table and some of these issues of potential acquisition of property and potential compensation payments have come up, if the law officers feel that a few more finetunes might be appropriate. There may be some further Government amendments, and we will look at them on their merits. I would say to Independent members, assuming that they are minded to support the principle of the legislation, that a high level of caution would be appropriate about passing today a very complex piece of legislation that interferes with rights and that was introduced only on Tuesday.
MR MOORE (12.01): Mr Speaker, I was fortunate enough to be approached on this issue by a number of small business men in the ACT. I discussed the issue at length with the Motor Trades Association and also with principals from a number of oil companies. It seems to me that the action that Mr Humphries has taken in principle is appropriate. There are two groups of people who are going to miss out if we do not take this kind of action. Those people are, firstly, the consumers, as Mr Connolly rightly mentioned, and they are the most important group; and, secondly, the small business people in the ACT, particularly those small business people who normally employ five or six employees in their garage to serve petrol and who often employ another three or four people in their mechanical workshops. It seems to me, Mr Speaker, that the other impact in terms of the consumer will be that we will see fewer of those mechanical workshops associated with service stations, fewer of those areas being left in the middle of suburbs.
I think there is also a planning issue here. We have seen suburbs where the schools have closed. We have seen suburbs where the fuel outlet has closed. In small shopping centres this has meant that the heart has been ripped out of the centre of a neighbourhood. When any one of these things happens it undermines that general concept of a suburban centre. I know that the Leader of the Opposition has lived for a long time in Downer and has been part of the residents association there. She had to watch what happened in Downer as the schools were closed. The service station has now gone from there and there is less and less life in the centre of the suburb. There are ways in which people compensate for that, but they are issues that we do need to keep in mind while we are dealing with the overriding issue of further price control being in the hands of the oil majors. I think that is the fundamental issue that underlies this.
Mr Connolly rightly dealt with the issue of retrospectivity. When he said that he had no difficulty with retrospectivity, I presume that he meant that he had no difficulty with retrospectivity where an announcement of the Government's intention had been made previously. I fully support him on that issue and I support the Minister in this action. Mr Speaker, I indicated to Mr Humphries some time ago that I would support this type of legislation and I am delighted to rise and support it in principle today. There are the issues that Mr Connolly has raised about the construction of this piece of legislation and it is appropriate that we have time to consider it carefully and to debate those issues. I think it is sensible that over the next three weeks we have time to consider some of the issues that Mr Connolly has raised. That in no way undermines the intention of Mr Humphries or the direction in which this Bill is going. I think the message will be very clear today, when the Bill is passed in principle, that it has widespread support in the Assembly. It will be only a matter, then, of looking at the specific provisions to ensure that we are all satisfied that they do what Mr Humphries intends them to do. It is with pleasure, Mr Speaker, that I offer my support for this legislation.