Australian senator to oppose petrol deregulation

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Australian senator Barnaby Joyce (Nationals, Queensland) has moved to oppose the government's planned changes to the country's petrol retail industry. The National Party, of which Senator Joyce is a member, governs Australia in coalition with the Liberal Party.

The government plans to amend regulations governing the petrol industry to allow oil companies to own more than five percent of petrol stations. Senator Joyce has given notice to disallow regulations that would force the government to debate them in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Senator Joyce said the proposed changes would hurt the smaller retailers in the industry. "What we need is protection for independents and mum and dad businesses," he told the Australian Financial Review.

Senator Joyce is concerned that the proposed regulations would start takeovers of smaller retailers by oil companies. "Obviously the sites they're going to get are the sites that are controlled by independents or independent franchisees, what I would term the mum and dad operators," he said.

"In 1980 we thought it was a good thing for there to be wider participation in the retail market by mum and dad operators and I still think that's a just cause," said Senator Joyce.

It is not the first time Senator Joyce has gone against his party's legislation. Senator Joyce refused to support a government bill changing Australia's trade practices law in October 2005 and voted against voluntary student unionism legislation in December 2005.

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