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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 5 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1289 ..

MR SPEAKER: All I can ask is that you be aware of that, Mr Humphries.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I am aware of it. My answer will not anticipate the debate, except that Mr Hird has asked about the policy of the Government that already operates in this area. With respect, I think it is important to be able to put it on the table. Mr Speaker, we have two aims. One is to ensure that people have access to a competitive petrol price market. The other is that people have access to places to buy petrol in their local community. So we share the concern Mr Hird has expressed to ensure that local service stations are not closed down. Other members have raised this concern with me, including Mr Berry.

I have met a number of operators in recent days and I am concerned about the position they are faced with. The fact is that petrol companies in a number of instances in this Territory are seeking to close the stations that those people operate and, it appears, move towards the redevelopment of some of those sites for other purposes. Mr Speaker, let me make it quite clear both to members of this Assembly and to the petrol companies themselves that the Government's policy is this: If the service stations have been issued with leases which require them to pump petrol and do ancillary things on those sites, the Government will ensure, unless there are very good reasons not to, that that is exactly what occurs with respect to those leases. We are not in the business, for the most part, of converting petrol stations into housing or shops or anything else if there is a viable petrol enterprise capable of being conducted from that site.

Those petrol companies which are seeking across this city to cash in their investment in those sites ought to be very well aware of one thing. If they wish to take steps down that path, they can evict their tenants if they want to; but, if they think we are going to smile sweetly and hand over a variation of their lease and give them something else on the site, they are very sorely mistaken. This Government believes that those businesses are viable, certainly the people who operate them believe that they are viable; and, in those circumstances, we intend to make sure that those sites continue to operate.

We have introduced legislation to prevent multisite franchising. What has happened with some of these sites, or is attempting to happen with some of these sites, is that effectively multisite franchising comes in via the back door. Instead of having one person operating several sites, you get direct control of the sites by the petrol companies evicting their present franchisees, giving you the capacity in the future to deal with that problem in some alternative way. Mr Speaker, if this Government can possibly avoid it, those companies will not get away with that tactic, and they should be on notice of that fact from today.

Kingston Foreshore

MS McRAE: Mr Speaker, I will attempt not to vex you or the Chief Minister too much in case she calls for your removal from the chamber. Yesterday the Chief Minister provided evidence that in May 1995 the Commonwealth was being approached to undertake the clean-up of the AGPS site on the contaminated land at Kingston which forms part of the Kingston foreshore site that she has swapped for Acton. That was the memo we received yesterday. But in March, when the land swap was being made public,

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