Thursday, May 29, 2008

Give Fuelwatch A Go

It seems we can’t stop talking about the price of petrol. That’s understandable given that motorists around the country are entitled to feel that we are all being taken for a ride. Now, to add to the confusion, two embarrassing leaks from the government have prompted us all to question whether Fuelwatch is going to be an expensive waste of time which could even cost us all more at the bowser. It’s easy to feel that the whole thing is falling apart before the scheme has even left the starting blocks.

Adding to the conundrum is the fact that these two leaks of confidential documents from within the heart of government put on public display the deep divisions in opinion inside the cabinet. That in itself is a serious concern for the government, not because the differences of opinion exist, but because somebody inside the government is obviously working to undermine their credibility. This has been reported as the end of the Rudd honeymoon, and that is not putting the case too strongly. It is however out of all proportion to suggest that it might be the beginning of the Rudd demise.

Like any significant challenge, it may be the catalyst for the Labor government to lift its game, or it may not. That remains to be seen. What we do know however is that it should be no surprise that there is a range of different views and opinions about fuelwatch inside the government just as there is in the wider community.

While the projected savings of up to 1.9 cents a litre on average may not sound like much, the crucial point is that the A.C.C.C.’s analysis shows that fuelwatch will not cost consumers more, and that the program gives consumers a degree of certainty that does not exist now. I believe that we should not rely on fuelwatch alone, and that other measures need to be considered, including Brendan Nelson’s tax reduction. However, we should give fuelwatch a go and see if it delivers as promised.

And anyway, I would think that even if the savings are miniscule, and all it does is give the oil companies a thorn in the side, then it’s worth doing just for that.

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