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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 822 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

in Canberra the public bus system will continue to struggle to compete with private vehicles unless government intervenes.

Because many people have no real choice but to use cars for transport, this has reinforced the high demand for petrol and turned petrol pricing into a big political issue. It is this issue that this inquiry should primarily address. Unfortunately, governments of all persuasions are failing to take serious action to address this issue in a holistic, environmentally responsible way.

Reducing fuel excise is not the way to address rising fuel prices. It sends all the wrong signals to both petrol producers and consumers. Petrol producers will get the message that they can continue to increase wholesale fuel prices, knowing that the government will step in to lower the impact on consumers by reducing the tax on the price at the pump. Consumers will also get the message that they have no need to be more efficient in their use of petrol, such as by using public transport or by getting more fuel efficient vehicles, because the government will step in and keep the price of petrol artificially low.

I am moving this amendment to Mr Rugendyke's motion so that the terms of reference of the ICRC inquiry include the issue of the level of dependence in the ACT community on the use of private motor vehicles for transport, the environmental and social impacts of this dependence and its impact on local fuel demand and price. Such a reference is quite consistent with the objectives of the ICRC. In section 7 of the ICRC legislation the commission has, as an objective:

to facilitate an appropriate balance between efficiency and environmental and social considerations;

I must admit that I was critical of the ICRC legislation when it was debated in the Assembly, because I thought it had too much of an economic focus, so I will be very interested to see how the commission deals with these considerations in its inquiry.

MR RUGENDYKE (6.24): Mr Speaker, I will not be supporting Ms Tucker's amendment. It is my view that what she proposes is an entirely different debate to that of my motion. My motion revolves around petrol pricing, competition, fluctuations and the Western Australian model. The words "any other related matter" in my motion would indicate to the pricing commissioner that he can look at other common myths. I put this amendment in the category of what I refer to occasionally as a broad-brush greenie approach. The amendment is designed to complicate, delay and prolong. For that reason, I will not support it.

MR QUINLAN (6.25): We will be supporting Ms Tucker's amendment. It is quite sensible that this review take a balanced approach. The broad appeal of Mr Rugendyke's motion can be enhanced by a responsible approach to environmental considerations. Sooner or later we are going to have to face these issues.

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