Page 3459 - Week 11 - Thursday, 19 September 2013
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (11.24): As Mr Corbell has said, it is worthy to note that there is a COAG process currently in place to look at exactly this same matter. The latest joint communique by the COAG governance and legislative forum on consumer affairs notes:
Ministers discussed the value of having a national information standard for petrol price boards to assist consumers to make better fuel purchasing decisions through the provision of clearer, more standardised information.
Ministers noted the consultation that had been undertaken with industry and consumer groups to date and that the agreement was not reached over a national information standard.
Ministers agreed to undertake further consultation with industry and consumer stakeholders and revisit this issue at the next CAF—
Consumer affairs forum—
The context of this goes back to July 2012 when CAF ministers agreed to consider a national approach to the display of price information on fuel price boards. This agreement resulted in the release of the public consultation paper “Consumers and fuel prices boards” by Consumer Affairs Australia and New Zealand on 7 December 2012. The paper was formally assessed by the Office of Best Practice Regulation as meeting the COAG principles on best practice regulation. Looking at the submissions that had been received and concerns raised, CAF’s position for further consultation seems prudent.
Based on the advice that we were provided with by Mr Rattenbury’s office—I thank him for the briefing on the bill—this bill takes its lead from the New South Wales fair trade regulation 2012. For the most part, it is a straight copy of the New South Wales regulations, with the exception that the Greens are enshrining this in territory legislation, noting that the explanatory statement accompanying the bill and key features include that the act commence on 1 September 2013, the same time as in New South Wales. This may have to be modified.
It creates offences with a maximum penalty of 50 penalty units for failing to correctly advertise the price of fuel that is available to all customers. It requires that service stations that sell up to four types of prescribed fuels must advertise the prices of each fuel they sell. It requires that service stations that sell five or more types of fuel must advertise the price of the four highest selling fuels and requires stations to correctly advertise the octane rating of each fuel they offer for sale. When asked why do this now when there is a formal COAG process underway, the response we received was that it will take too long, which Mr Rattenbury stated on the public record.
Madam Deputy Speaker, consistent with other Greens go-it-alone-type approaches, which we also resisted, we have concerns. Firstly, it is rushed. I recall the Greens wanting to focus on 16 August this year, the last day of the appropriation debate for