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Thursday, 29 March 1979
Page: 1281

Mr KEATING (BLAXLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask the Minister for National Development a question. It refers to the publication today of a telex from Caltex Oil (Australia) Pty Ltd to his Department. Is it a fact that the telex that his Department received from Caltex stated that 'Caltex has abided by the undertakings to avoid public panic by playing down the problem in its public utterances ' on the supply and price of crude oil and petroleum products? Did the Government obtain this undertaking from Caltex? If so, will the Minister now acknowledge that he made a deal with the oil companies to play down the seriousness of the oil situation? If not, does he deny the statement made in the telex by Caltex?

Mr NEWMAN (BASS, TASMANIA) (Minister for National Development) - The answer to the honourable member's question is simple. He asked whether I denied the allegation or assertion made in the Caltex telex. The answer is yes. Let me repeat what I have said many times in this House in the last couple of days. There was no deal with Caltex. There was no deal with any other oil company. If there was any agreement it was to make moderate, responsible and accurate statements as to the oil supply and demand situation in this country. That was done immediately after the 13 February meeting and it has been done ever since. If the honourable member has any complaint about the telex and obviously I have as well I suggest that he take it up with Caltex. I am not responsible if they send silly, badlyphrased telex messages.

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