Page 3453 - Week 11 - Thursday, 19 September 2013

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Fair Trading (Fuel Prices) Amendment Bill 2013

Debate resumed from 6 June 2013, on motion by Mr Rattenbury:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations and Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development) (11.01): The Fair Trading (Fuel Prices) Amendment Bill 2013 seeks to require petrol stations to display only the normal price of their fuel—that is, the price payable before any supermarket docket or other discounts are applied. The bill would also require petrol stations to display the price of all fuels sold at that station—for stations that sell four or less types of fuel—or the four most popular types of fuel if the station supplies more than four types of fuel. The price of LPG and diesel must also be displayed if the petrol station supplies those products. Finally, the bill requires petrol stations to display on the fuel pump the octane rating of all unleaded and E10 petrol sold by that station. The explanatory statement for the bill states that this would stop consumers being misled about the price of fuel, and would stop motorists entering petrol stations only to discover they have to pay a higher price than advertised.

The government agrees that these are worthy objectives. It is important that motorists are able to clearly determine the price they actually have to pay for fuel without having to enter the petrol station. Motorists would also benefit from having the prices of a wider range of fuel types more prominently displayed. These objectives demonstrate precisely why the government has been actively working with jurisdictions across Australia to develop a consistent national approach to the display of information on fuel price boards.

This work is being developed under the guidance of the Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs, which consists of all commonwealth, state, territory and New Zealand ministers responsible for fair trading and consumer protection laws. I represent the ACT on this body. The forum’s role is to provide an opportunity for ministers to discuss matters of mutual interest concerning consumer policy, services and programs. It considers consumer affairs and fair trading matters of national significance and works to develop a consistent approach to those issues.

At the second meeting of the forum, on 6 July, it was agreed that all jurisdictions would work towards a nationally consistent framework on fuel price board signage. As a first step, a public consultation paper on a proposed national petrol information standard was developed and released to coincide with the third meeting of the forum in December last year. The aim of the consultation paper was to stimulate discussion on fuel price transparency with a view to increasing competition and allowing consumers to accurately compare fuel prices at different retailers.

The public consultation paper canvassed three options. The first was no regulation. Jurisdictions would continue to rely on generic consumer protections against false, misleading and deceptive conduct, “bait advertising” and multiple pricing. The second

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