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MR WHITECROSS (12.05): Mr Speaker, I want to expand a little on one of the points that Mr Connolly made in his address which dealt with this issue of the possible acquisition of property encompassed by the Bill and perhaps more particularly by the amendment. Members will be aware that Mr Osborne has just presented a report of the Scrutiny of Bills Committee which dealt with the Bill. Because of the way the terms of reference of the committee are written, it is not open to the Scrutiny of Bills Committee to consider the terms of the amendment even though the amendment was presented at the same time as the Bill. As Mr Connolly has indicated, we are not suggesting a conspiracy in relation to that; we are just saying as a matter of fact that the Scrutiny of Bills Committee has not had the chance to consider the amendment because it falls outside the terms of reference of the committee. The committee can consider the Bill as introduced, but not amendments.
This is particularly significant in this case because it is the amendment which goes, more particularly, to the property rights of the franchisee and whom the franchisee can sell the franchise to. While there is some acquisition of property rights involved in the original Bill, it focuses more on the petroleum companies than on small business people running individual franchises. That is one of the reasons why the Labor Party is keen to have a couple of extra weeks in which to consider the implications of this. We are keen not to rush the Bill through today, so that we can clarify those issues in our minds and satisfy ourselves about them. I do not think Mr Connolly put on the public record, although I know that he has spoken to Mr Humphries about this, that the Labor Party is happy to have this brought back on in the first week of the next sittings. We are not talking about a protracted delay, just sufficient delay to enable us to consider some of those issues.
In relation to the other issue I raised, it is an issue that members should bear in mind when they are considering this legislation. It is currently not open to the Scrutiny of Bills Committee to consider amendments, but sometimes those amendments can have quite significant effects. Sometimes they are not minor technical things. Sometimes they are quite significant things. The implications of those amendments can be quite significant. It is, therefore, necessary for the parliament as a whole to take the responsibility of considering those things and not to rely on the work of the Scrutiny of Bills Committee.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General and Minister for Consumer Affairs) (12.09), in reply: Mr Speaker, I thank members for their general support for the legislation, qualified though it may have been in some cases, and I hope that we come around to passing it in the near future. Mr Connolly describes it as drawing a slightly long bow to say that I might be nationalising the oil industry in the ACT. To describe the strength or length of that bow, if it were a physical bow the bow shaft would be here and the bowstring would be somewhere in Cootamundra.
Mr Speaker, as I said, I do thank members for their support, but I want to put a few points on the record. Mr Connolly says that there was some political timing in this matter. I take that as a great compliment from the master of political timing on matters of petrol pricing. I thank him for that. I do want to strongly take issue with his comments about the rise in petrol prices in the ACT. Mr Connolly has said that this Government is responsible for the rise in petrol prices in the ACT. As I have said before in this place,