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Thursday, 1 December 1938

Mr MENZIES (Kooyong) (AttorneyGeneral) . - I move -

That the House do now adjourn.

In doing so I desire to refer to one matter which was mentioned by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) and which also was made the subject-matter of one or two earlier questions. It appears that there is in some quarters a belief - I now speak about the Port Kembla trouble - that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has obtained permission to export pig iron to Japan at the rate of 1,000 tons a day, and in the second place there appears to be a belief that British interests - and I quote the statement made to me - had asked for shipments of the same commodities to be used in England but have been refused. I should just like to say, quite categorically, about these matters, that as to the first statement with reference to the suggestion of 1,000 tons a day, there is no embargo whatever on the export of pig iron; secondly, that it is not necessary for the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited or any other exporter to secure permission, and that in fact no permission has been asked for or granted in relation to any quantity of 1,000 tons or otherwise. The fact appears to be that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has at present contracts with Japanese buyers to a total of 23,000 tons, to be shipped, so I am informed, between now and the end of January, but beyond those contracts there are no contracts at present in existence. I have already indicated, and indeed the Prime Minister has indicated, that the whole question of these exports is kept constantly under review, and that should the export market assume very large proportions, the Government would consider the whole position again. At the present time, the only contracts of which we can obtain knowledge, are of the total I have mentioned, and it is not possible to find any foundation for the statement, " a thousand tons a day", and certainly no permission has been asked for in relation to such a quantity. As to the second statement about British interests having been refused permission, that also is without foundation. The Commonwealth Government has at no time refused permission for pig iron to be shipped to British interests. As far as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is concerned - that being the relevant company in Australia - it is, as the law now stands, at liberty to sell in any market it pleases.

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