Page 3460 - Week 11 - Thursday, 19 September 2013

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the budget. Secondly, the ill-considered consequence of this was perhaps that if it did pass in the Assembly, it would have given ACT petrol stations just 11 days to comply.

Keep in mind that the compliance signs have been estimated to cost around $50,000 to $70,000. That would have been unviable. I do recall that the New South Wales initiative allowed for a 12-month phase-in period so service stations had time to amend their signage. Thirdly, there was no regulatory impact statement that would have given some sense of the cause and effect of this initiative in the ACT. And lastly there was scant indication of how octane levels are to be verified and issues around quality control.

Madam Deputy Speaker, our concern is compounded by the fact that Mr Corbell has already warned that the territory does not have the capacity to achieve the desired outcomes in Mr Rattenbury’s bill. This leaves the Canberra Liberals with little confidence that this ACT Labor-Greens government would properly implement a fuel price display scheme should the ACT go it alone.

We have seen this with the government’s legislation relating to plastic bags, criminalisation in relation to shopping trolleys, the small and medium feed-in tariff schemes and the carbon emission targets. These are just a few of the failed go-it-alone initiatives. Quite clearly, we will not be supporting the bill today.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (11.28), in reply: It seems that the only real reason offered to object to this bill is that it would be preferable to have a national approach. That is probably true: having one standard everywhere would be a good thing. However, as members know and have seen on many occasions, our federated jurisdictions do not always move swiftly. In fact, they next to never move swiftly, and this issue is unlikely to be an exception to that. This matter has already been deferred by the Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs for further consideration, and I have no doubt that we will see no action on it for at least the next year, and possibly longer.

The other important point to note about hiding behind the possibility of a national scheme is that even if there is national regulation of the issue, all it can do is apply the rules proposed in the bill. The issue is actually very simple. We either require service stations to display the actual price or we allow them to display any other price that they like. There really is no third way. And there is no reason why the scheme proposed in the bill could not be in place until any commonwealth law, or any other agreed national approach, commenced to take the space.

The proposal in the bill is an exact replica of the rules in place in New South Wales, introduced by Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell. In the absence of reform, we now have the bizarre scenario where the rules that apply in Queanbeyan to ensure fair competition will not be able to be applied in the ACT.

Minister Corbell has raised two other issues. He has said that we could not enforce the octane labelling requirement. This is a bit hard to swallow given that New South Wales has exactly the same scheme in place. I honestly cannot see how it could be difficult to come to an arrangement with New South Wales to do a modest number of tests on a fee-for-service basis.

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