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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 10 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 3004 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I want to talk about petrol for a moment. For the last month or so the price of petrol at my local service station in Weston has been sitting at between 70.5c and 70.9c per litre. That is the lowest price at which petrol has been sold in the ACT since the first few days after Burmah Fuels opened in Kingston. It is a price well below what Burmah has been selling petrol for in recent months. Some service stations have been matching the price, although some are still around 74c per litre. I want to point out that I have not been claiming any credit for this drop in prices, although there is a lesson to be learnt about that.

One thing that I think needs to be made clear is that no ACT government can be responsible for oil companies reducing price support, movements in the price of crude oil, and movements in the dollar and the like which force prices up; but I am afraid it is all too often the case that the Labor Party scream that it is my fault when the price of petrol does go up. If it is my fault when the price of petrol goes up, I assume they would say that it is to my credit when petrol prices come down, as they have quite dramatically in the last few days.

I have been waiting at my desk for the press release to come in expressing hearty congratulations from Mr Whitecross and Ms Follett, but I do not think I am going to get it; and, Mr Speaker, I do not expect to receive such praise. It would be glib to claim credit for something which is not my doing. The fact is that this particular experience of prices of petrol coming down should be a lesson to the headline chasers opposite that when petrol prices move in this town there is generally a lot more to it than can be controlled by any one ACT government.

I think there is a message in this for the Canberra community. There are limits to the extent to which the ACT Government can fix petrol prices. When prices go up as a result of something this Government does, I expect criticism. When they go down as a result of something that we do, I seek praise. But, when the crude oil prices go up, or the US dollar goes up, or there is a war in the Middle East or whatever, I have to say that I think it is a little bit beyond my powers to do anything about that. I hope that those opposite have taken a little bit of heed of the lesson that this most recent price drop has for them.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Assembly adjourned at 6.17 pm

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