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Tuesday, 8 March 1966

Mr Hayden asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -

1.   How many primary aluminium smelters arc in operation in Australia?

2.   What are the names of the owning and operating companies and what percentage of each of the smelting companies is (a) Australian and (b) foreign owned?

3.   What is the total yearly output of each of these smelters?

4.   What is Australia's total domestic consumption of aluminium?

5.   Has another group indicated its intention to establish an aluminium smelter in Australia; if so, what companies are concerned and what percentage of the enterprise is (a) Australian and (b) foreign owned?

6.   What is the expected output capacity of this proposed smelter?

7.   Are the existing smelters operating at capacity output; if not, at what percentage of capacity are they operating?

8.   What is the (a) world and (b) Australian price of aluminium?

9.   If the existing smelters are producing beyond Australian consumption, where is it proposed to dispose of the output of a third smelter if the Australian price for aluminium is above the world price?

10.   Can he give an undertaking that surplus output will not be dumped on the world market at a price below the Australian price, with the loss subsidised by a higher Australian price?

11.   Has an application been made for tariff protection for the Australian production of aluminium; if so, will there be any guarantees for the consuming public that the tariff level will not be so high that the producers are allowed to pass on the cost of excessive surplus output to the Australian consuming public?

12.   Has a consortium been given lease rights to the Gove bauxite deposts on the understanding that it will establish a refinery in Australia; if so, by what time has the refinery to be established, what will be its capacity output and where will market outlets be found for its production?

13.   What percentage of this consortium is (a) Australian and (b) foreign owned, and will he identify the companies comprising the consortium?

Mr McEwen - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows -

1.   Two.

2.   The names of the operating companies are -

Alcoa of Australia Pty. Ltd.

Comalco Aluminium (Bell Bay) Ltd.

Alcoa of Australia Pty. Ltd. is 49 per cent. Australian owned and51 per cent, foreign owned. The Australian interests are held by Broken Hill South Limited, North Broken Hill Limited and Western Mining Corporation Ltd. The51 per cent, foreign interest is held by Aluminium Co. of America.

Comalco Aluminium (Bell Bay) Ltd. is the operating company for Comalco Industries Pty. Ltd. Foreign ownership in Comalco Aluminium (Bell Bay) Ltd. exceeds 90 per cent.

3.   Separate figures are not published for each company. Total production in the calendar year 1964 was 78,744 tons, and for 1965, 86,378 tons (preliminary figure).

4.   Apparent domestic consumption in the calendar year 1964 was 64,461 tons.

5.   Australian Aluminium Co. Ltd. (Australuvo) announced in December, 1965, the intention of establishing a smelter in the Newcastle area. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Aluminium Limited of Canada (Alcan).

6.   30,000 to 40,000 tons per annum.

7.   The existing smelters are estimated to be operating at above 90 per cent of installed capacity.

8.   As at 31st January 1966, the world price war £245 per ton and the Australian price £260 per ton.

9.   10 and 11. As with other industries, the entry of an efficient new producer will result in some change in market shares held by existing manufacturers both in Australia and overseas. However, the Australian aluminium industry has asked for protection against import competition, and in accordance with established procedures, the question has been referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report. The Government will, ofcourse, be guided by the Board's recommendations, including their implications for the industry's future operations, in deciding on its attitude towards the industry's request for assistance and the level of protection which should be accorded. I cannot, of course, attempt to forecast what the Board will recommend. It is, however, relevant that at the Board's inquiries a major Australian producer stated an intention of ultimately achieving a domestic price which would be competitive by world standards.

It is also relevant that the Tariff Board has said on several occasions that, where there are no compensating benefits to the economy, the cost burden created by excess capacity should be carried by the manufacturers concerned and not by the community or consuming industries.

12.   Yes; an alumina plant is to be established by 1971 with a capacity of 500,000 tons. Where the company's production will be sold is a matter for the company to determine. 13. (a) 50 per cent, (b) 50 per cent Members of the consortium are -

Swiss Aluminium Ltd.

The Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd.

Australian Mutual Provident Society.

Bank of New South Wales.

Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Ltd.

Elder Smith Goldsbrough Mort Ltd.

Mount Morgan Ltd.

Mutual Life and Citizen's Assurance Company Ltd.

Peko-Wallsend Investments Ltd.

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