Reform Fatigue Hits Motorists in Regional Australia


"The decision by the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, Senator Minchin, to abandon the reform process in the petroleum retail market is extremely disappointing and will hit regional motorists hard," said Lauchlan McIntosh, Executive Director of the Australian Automobile Association (AAA).


Mr McIntosh added that "the admission by the Minister that the motoring public will be denied the benefits that increased competition from deregulation of petrol marketing would have brought, has demonstrated that reform fatigue has set in with political parties and business interests".


Mr McIntosh commented that since the Government's commitment in 1996 to a process of reform of the petroleum retail market, and following recommendations from a myriad of inquiries, motorists had been waiting on a new environment which would enhance competition.


The AAA had acted on recommendations from the Treasurer to improve transparency of pricing by publishing, in conjunction with the major oil companies, petrol prices in over 100 towns around Australia.


The results of this monitoring (available on the AAA website) have demonstrated the lack of competition in many regional towns since partial deregulation in August last year.


"Petrol prices are an important issue for the millions of motorists across Australia and given the high level of petrol excise, the continued indexation of excise and the lack of competition, it was disappointing that the Petroleum Retail Regulation Repeal Bill 1998 was withdrawn", said Mr McIntosh.


Mr McIntosh called on all political parties to reassess their commitment to reform, particularly since petrol prices are likely to rise even further following recent OPEC announcements to further restrict supply.


"The expected increase in petrol prices should emphasise the need for a reduction in excise of at least 8.9 cents per litre and the abandonment of excise indexation in the lead up to GST implementation. This was recommended to the Government earlier this year by AAA", Mr McIntosh said.


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