Lunch with Kevin Rudd – Prime Minister

On Friday 24th October 2008 I had lunch with Prime Minister Rudd … along with 542 other business people. I was attending the “Small Business Summit on Global Financial Crisis”

Nice food was provided and I networked with several other Small Business Owners awaiting Prime Minister Rudd’s arrival.

His opening remarks were optimistic and he recognised the importance of small business to the Australian economy. Apparently Small business employ 4 million people and that is a lot of votes!

Then questions were opened to the floor and the first one appeared to be a “Dorothy Dixer” and was promptly answered by a Senior Executive from the NAB. This Gentleman (just being polite) continued to espouse the virtues of the NAB and how good they are to Small Business. He carried on so long that most of us forgot about the question. Oh, that right something about the ease of small business to get credit now.

There were many questions from a broad range of people and I was lucky enough to be able to ask my question:

Why do petrol prices rise so quickly at the bowser when the price of oil goes up and when the price of oil drops why does it take the oil companies so long to drop the price of petrol at the bowser?
The Prime Minister gave us the standard answer that we have all heard before about the “free market forces” and Fuel Watch was stopped in the Senate. So I emailed my question again to Craig Emerson and the following is what I wrote:
From: Steve Semmens []
Sent: Friday, 31 October 2008 2:32 PM
To: ‘Small Business’
Subject: RE: [TRIS] Small Business Summit on Global Financial Crisis – Follow Up question

Dear Craig
I enjoyed the lunch and appreciate the efforts of yourself, Mr Swan, Mr Sherry, and Prime Minister Rudd for spending time with owners of SME’s.
However, though I did get to ask my question, I felt that there are solutions to my question that could be implemented by the Government and were not answered by Prime Minister Rudd.
The price of petrol impacts on all businesses and consumers but especially small business.
My question was:
Why do petrol prices rise so quickly at the bowser when the price of oil goes up and when the price of oil drops why does it take the oil companies so long to drop the price of petrol at the bowser?
My solution is this:
Take all taxes off petrol other than the GST. Is it legal to have a tax on a tax?
Petrol is a need not a want. The oil companies have a captured market therefore the Government has a responsibility to ensure that consumers are not being ripped off.
Give the ACCC more powers to obtain the information they need to properly investigate these differences in prices and if required prosecute the oil companies if they are indeed taking advantage as it appears that they are.
Get a Petrol Commissioner who is assertive and who will go after these large companies when they do the wrong thing. (I am more than happy to step in and have ago)
Ensure that the Independents get a fair go.
The Fuel watch idea sounds OK but I think the oil companies should be stuck with the same price of petrol for a week and not a day. I find it had to believe that they can use all of their reserves bought at one price and use it up all in one day. I think that is what the public finds so hard to believe.
Anyway, thank you for your time and I hope that you will consider some of my strategies in reducing the price of petrol thereby assisting Small Businesses effectively by reducing one of their major costs.
Kind regards
Steve Semmens
Semmens Executive Recruitment
PO Box 3402
Tingalpa DC QLD 4173
Phone: 07 3890 7090
Mobile: 0412 522 771

Placing Human Resources, Sales & Marketing, and Finance Professionals

I will post the answer when and if I get one.
All in all it was an interesting lunch! 4 million people is a HUGE amount of votes so lets see if Small
Business get the recognition and support from this Government that they deserve.