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Monday, 22 October 1973
Page: 2408


Mr FitzPATRICK - I ask the Prime Minister whether the Prices Justification Tribunal rejected an application by Broken Hill Pty Co.Ltd for a price increase of 9.42 per cent and whether the Tribunal stated that only half the price increase requested was justified. Can he recall any similar action by previous governments to have BHP prices or any other company's prices justified before an independent tribunal? Is it true that the Prices Justification Tribunal has also been successful in holding back price increases in a number of other key sectors in its private preliminary hearings with companies? Is he satisfied, in view of the Opposition's attacks in the past on the Tribunal, that the Tribunal is playing a significant role in dealing with inflation?


Mr WHITLAM - This Government was the first Australian Government, in the exercise of any peacetime authority, to have an inquiry made into any basic commodities such as, in this case, steel. I acknowledge, as I did at the time, the fact that Australia's largest company co-operated in the Government's policy of having price justification for basic commodities. I express the appreciation of the Government and I believe of the Australian people that Mr Justice Moore, now the President of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, performed the basic pioneering work in that regard. I did say that I would table material in this regard. I now take the opportunity of tabling the notification to me by Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and Australian Iron and Steel Pty Ltd specifying the prices at which those companies proposed to supply the goods which were the subject of the recent inquiry by the Prices Justification Tribunal, the first such inquiry conducted by the Tribunal. I did table in the House on the eleventh of this month the report of the Tribunal in which it stated that it had formed the opinion that an average increase of 5.5 per cent instead of 9.4 per cent was justified. The company, under section 18 subsection 6 paragraph(b) of the Act, is required to give a notification of its intended action.

I would like in this case, too, to express the appreciation of the Government and, I am sure, of the Australian people of the Tribunal's careful inquiry and report. I take this opportunity of commending the Tribunal both for this work and for its high degree of commitment to all its important obligations. The Government is very conscious of the pressures on the Tribunal and has recently reinforced it by the appointment of Mr Deputy President Chambers of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission as Deputy Chairman of the Tribunal. There are very many indications that the Tribunal's presence and operations are having a salutary effect on prospective price increases.







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