Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 15 Hansard (Wednesday, 9 December 2009) . . Page.. 5540 ..
MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms Le Couteur for her question. I note, Ms Le Couteur, as you have, the call by the NRMA today for the ACT government to intervene in the market in relation to the sale of service station sites. It is interesting, I think, in the context of some of the criticisms and critique of the government in relation to—
Mr Smyth: He is not the minister responsible; the Treasurer is.
MR SPEAKER: Do you want to take a point of order?
Mr Smyth: Because you insist, Mr Speaker, I will take a point of order. Under the administrative arrangements, the Treasurer is responsible for competition policy. I wonder why she is not answering the question.
MR SPEAKER: Ms Le Couteur directed a question to the Chief Minister, which she is entitled to do, and the Chief Minister has offered to take the question.
MR STANHOPE: The call by the NRMA for governmental intervention in markets and in relation to, in this instance, service station markets is interesting. The NRMA’s support comes from frustration, I think, at the significant campaign that the NRMA, in particular, has conducted on behalf of Australian consumers in relation to the see-sawing price of petrol at service stations.
I think it is a matter of some wonderment to all of us that the price of petrol can whiz up on a certain day of the week and drop a couple of days later and that there is something of a whirligig in relation to which day of the week it is that the oil companies will jack up the price of petrol, whether or not it will be early in the week or later in the week. Always, it seems, on the day before a long weekend the price of petrol will mysteriously rise. The NRMA’s Alan Evans has been unremitting in his campaign to do something about the price of petrol and oil and to do something about what the NRMA regularly regards as significant gouging of the consumer.
I am interested that a major national organisation such as the NRMA has asked governments around Australia to intervene to seek to exclude the major chains. It is, I guess, a matter of some interest that the two major petrol station chains in Australia now are Woolworths and Coles. Of course, the move that we have taken in relation to supermarket competition, with your support, has been a result of concerns about the level of influence and market dominance and the impact on competition which Woolworths and Coles have in relation to groceries.
To be honest, it is not an issue that we have given consideration to in the context of land supply in the way in which, through the Martin review, we do resolve and have resolved to take steps as a government to see what we can do to enhance the entry of other players and, hence, competition in relation to supermarkets. To be consistent and logical, I believe it is appropriate that we now look. But I would want to be rigorous and thorough about it and not just say, “Oh, yes, we are doing it for supermarkets, so we will do it for petrol service stations.”
Particularly having regard to the support of a major national institution such as the NRMA, I am mindful to look at what we might do now to see whether or not some