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Wednesday, 7 December 1960

Mr McEWEN (MURRAY, VICTORIA) (Minister for Trade) - The shortage does not arise from indiscriminate export to the neglect of local demand, nor is it due to inadequate plant facilities for the production of what hitherto have been our normal needs. There has been a circumstance that I have mentioned before, and I think that it is worth repeating. A couple of years ago there was a very sharp decline in the internal demand for these steel products and the companies concerned very properly, in their own and the national interests, went after export markets. They engaged in commitments that were not terminable over a week-end. However, as soon as the internal demand revived, production was directed to meeting Australia's needs, while honouring contractual commitments overseas. Where possible, the steel companies concerned Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and asso ciated producers terminated the arrangements that had been made overseas so that they would be in a position to supply the Australian market and the New Zealand market, which historically has been supplied by Australia. The phenomenon that we see at present and it is part of the explanation of the current economic policy of the Government is the extraordinary expansion of internal demand which has put an excess pressure on resources within Australia.

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