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Thursday, 18 October 1973
Page: 2344


Dr L F CAIRNS (Lalor) (Minister for Overseas Trade) - In some ways this amendment, which the Government cannot accept, brings out the essential feature of this Bill. What the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) wants is that the normal conventional method of gathering together funds from the community should prevail and that it should not be modified or interfered with in any way. The Government cannot accept that. The Government agrees that the establishment of the National Investment Fund can be expected to increase the proportion and the aggregate of funds available for a public authority created by the will of this Parliament, a public authority which expresses as well as anything can express the will of the people because this Parliament expresses as well as anything can the will of the people. It seems to me that the Australian people have already clearly indicated that whilst they are happy and satisfied with the general private enterprise nature of the economy, they want to see a properly constituted public authority express a little more power and a little more competitive influence in this situation.

Over many years opinion has grown that if we leave the resources of this nation to the free enterprise system they will become increasingly under the control of a few people and a few companies and that significantly those companies will be controlled from overseas. In the House yesterday the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) quoted statistics that are now well known. They concern the basic resources of this nation. He pointed out that 100 per cent of the companies that own bauxite resources in Australia are controlled from overseas; 83.6 per cent in the case of copper; 64 per cent in the case of ilmenite; 49.19 per cent in the case of iron ore; 74.7 per cent in the case of lead; only 7.4 in the case of nickel, through the initiative of a particular Australian company which deserves great credit; 86.76 per cent in the case of rutile; 75.8 per cent in the case of tin; 29 per cent in the case of tungsten; 71.59 per cent in the case of zinc; 78.5 per cent in the case of zircon; 23.8 per cent in the case of black coal in New South Wales; and 88.2 per cent in the case of black coal in Queensland.

This is what is known as the sellout of Australia. It is a sellout which members of the Opposition now and when they were in government have been ready to see continue. Sir John McEwen was not ready to see this continue. He is a great Australian. He saw it as necessary to bring into existence the Australian Industry Development Corporation to try to hold the pass against this development. But, as I pointed out yesterday, the Australian Industry Development Corporation has had its hands tied even in relation to what Sir John McEwen wanted to do. At the present time it is able to provide only about $53m to attempt to hold the pass. Unless this Corporation receives a greater amount than that, the pass will not be held and finally this country will be sold out. The significance of that is that we no longer will have any control over the prices of our basic minerals and of our basic energy and fuel resources. So I reject completely the idea that the Opposition expresses in this amendment, namely, that we should agree to tie the hands of this Corporation.

We want to establish a National Investment Fund with a part of it which allows the Fund to provide for contributors on a superannuation or retirement basis. There is no earthly reason why this national Parliament should not set up a corporation that is able to do this. Why should it be left only to a few large insurance companies? What is there about them that is private enterprise? They are enormous corporations which are the very antithesis of private enterprise. They are a group of people who are responsible to no one and over whom no one has any influence whatever.


Mr Lynch - What about their shareholders?







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