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Wednesday, 13 May 1987
Page: 3080

Mr MARTIN —I direct my question to the Minister for Trade. Is the Minister aware of the answer given during Question Time in the Senate on Monday by the Minister for Resources and Energy about the establishment of a national coal marketing authority? Does the Minister concur with that statement? Is that view consistent with the views expressed by the National Liaison Committee of the combined mining unions and the Australian Coal Association? What implications exist for Australia's trade in coal through the implementation of such an authority?

Mr DAWKINS —I especially acknowledge the work of the honourable member for Macarthur on the Caucus coal committee. That committee has been doing invaluable work in maintaining a dialogue between all aspects of the industry as the industry works its way through a very difficult trading environment. The honourable member and his colleagues on that committee have done a great deal to maintain a kind of order in the industry which, of course, the Queensland Government seems determined to disrupt.

In relation to the question answered by my colleague the Minister for Resources and Energy, insofar as Senator Gareth Evans was talking about the domestic arrangements for the industry, that is a matter for him. He has responsibility for, and certain powers in relation to, the conduct of the coal industry in its domestic operation. I know that, taking note of the work of the Caucus coal committee, he is looking at a number of options for how the existing arrangements might be reviewed and, possibly, be reorganised. I know that the committee is currently considering that matter in conjunction with all aspects of the industry. I, like Senator Evans, would not wish to prejudge the outcome of those discussions. I simply make the point that it is not our intention-and certainly not my intention-as a consequence of any arrangements to interfere with the marketing arrangements of coal companies in Australia.