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Tuesday, 2 April 1957
Page: 384

Mr BEALE (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Supply) - I am satisfied with the production of the plant at Bell Bay as originally designed and brought into operation. The plant is now producing at approximately its maximum capacity of 13,000 tons a year.

Mr Whitlam - A half of Australia's requirements.

Mr BEALE - We shall see. All of the experts who have spoken to me about it are agreed that the plant is efficient, economical and a credit to this country. But when we are considering the question of doubling the capacity of the plant, a number of factors have to be taken into account. First of all, who is going to find the money? Secondly, what are the economics of such a plan; and, thirdly, are we at present in a position in Australia to be able to raise the money if either the Government or private citizens are to find it? Although the 13,000 tons does not represent the whole of Australia's normal production, actually at this moment we have at Bell Bay something more than the whole of our working capital tied up in aluminium which we have not succeeded in selling. The reason for that is that a year or two ago there was a marked shortage throughout the world and stocks were laid in by consumers. Now that there is a temporary over-supply available from other parts of the world, those, consumers, quite naturally, are using up their stocks, and the Australian Aluminium Production Commission is at present unable to get rid of its stocks. For an industrial concern, which ought to be operating as a business-like concern, to have the whole of its capital tied up in unsold stocks is a bad position. That has to be sorted out fin of all before we can give consideration to doubling the size of the plant; but I assure the honorable member that every aspect, including the question of the ultimate increase in the size of the plant, is under consideration, and that when the Government is in a position to make any statement abou! it, we shall do so.

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