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Wednesday, 27 September 1972
Page: 1274


Senator WEBSTER (Victoria) - Prior to the interruption, I was saying that I think all Australians can feel particularly proud that a company such as the Australian Gas Light Co. has the capacity in direction, in management and in financial standing to be able to enter into work to this extent. On the overall basis the total value of the work could, in the end, be approximately $250m. Even if the Australian manufacturers were to lose the particular section of the contract to which we are referring and it then were given the opportunity to supply the smaller lines that will go into various areas, the content of Australian supplies in this case would be over 60 per cent of the work. That gives us some reason perhaps to consider a proposition whereby all concerned in commercial opportunities should be given a fair opportunity to quote for this work.

Earlier this year 1 alerted the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) to consternation that existed amongst Australian manufacturers. In late April this year I took to the Minister for Trade and Industry certain queries relating to specification, size of pipeline and delivery times which, at that stage, were exercising very greatly the minds of Australian manufacturers. The Minister replied to me in this fashion: He gave me a note to say that earlier in this year liaison was established with the Australian Gas Light Co. to ensure that Australian industry was being given full opportunity to bid for the supply of material for the project. Senior representatives of the Australian Gas Light Co. indicated that this was the case and that full details of all technical specifications were being given to potential Australian suppliers.

I alerted the Minister. I believe it is from my actions that he has had his Department take a commercial and a governmental interest in this matter. It is difficult for his Department ever to interfere or take notice of contracts such as this, unless they are alerted by members of Parliament. The problem at that time was that Australian industry was aware that contract specifications had been given to overseas tenderers and that final specifications were not in the hands of Australian manufacturers.

I was somewhat disappointed, if I may say so through you, Mr Acting Deputy President, that the Minister was not able to bring this information before the Senate. One is inclined to consider what the Australian Democratic Labor Party suggests, which is, that this contract requires further investigation, if the Department of Trade and Industry is not able to have the facts before it at this time. I believe that it should.

On 20th September this year, prior to any notification being given that a contract had been let, I again alerted the Minister by question in this Senate to the fact that there was a possibility that Australian manufacturers had not seen the complete specification nor knew the correct size of pipe to be used. I seek leave, Mr Acting Deputy President, to incorporate in Hansard 3 questions which I raised on 20th and 21st September and the answers thereto.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie) - Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows) -

STEEL PIPE


Senator WEBSTER - I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry whether he is alert to the harsh blow which has been struck at Australian employees, suppliers of raw material and Australian based manufacturers by the reported announcement in today's newspapers that a contract for 220,000 metric tons of steel pipe, valued at $S4m, has been granted to a Japanese supplier. Is the Minister concerned at this announcement? Will the Minister confirm that at no stage of negotiations between the prin cipal and the Austraiian suppliers was there a request for quotation to supply steel gas pipe, of a diameter of 34 inches which it is reported has now been ordered from Japan? Will the Minister intervene in this matter to see that for the benefit of Australian suppliers of steel and Australian based manufacturers as well as in the interest of employment opportunity in this country, proper consideration is given to the use of Australian resources.







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