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Wednesday, 28 November 1973
Page: 2223

Senator McLAREN (South Australia) - I rise as a South Australian senator to make some comment on the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill. The passing of this measure is very vital to the Redcliffs project in South Australia. I am a little at a loss to know why some of the Opposition senators from South Australia have not put the case on behalf of the project at Redcliffs in this instance. They have accused this Government of being at loggerheads with the South Australian State Government and have heaped great praise on the South Australian Premier in recent days for what he has done in regard to other matters. Yet here is another State project that possibly could be put in jeopardy because of the referral of this

Bill to the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control. It has been the policy of the Liberal Country League in South Australia ever since the Redcliffs project was mentioned to pour cold water on it.

I want to quote some extracts from newspaper articles that go as far back as March of this year when just prior to the State elections in South Australia both Dr Eastick, the Leader of the Opposition in South Australia and Mr Hall, the Leader of the Liberal Movement- who will probably be a member of the Senate next yearaccused the South Australian Premier of using the Redcliffs project as a red herring and as a device to mislead the electors. I want to quote from the Adelaide 'Advertiser' of 6 March 1973. It states:

In Adelaide yesterday Dr Eastick said the petrochemical project had been advanced purely for electoral gain and it was now possible it might be lost to South Australia.

Mr Hallis on record as saying the very same thing day after day trying to hoodwink the people of South Australia into believing that the South Australian Government was trying to fool them into voting it back into office by using the petrochemical industry up north of Port Pirie as a bait. The people of South Australia did not fall for that bait. They re-elected the Dunstan Government to office with a very good majority. This petrochemical industry now depends largely on the funds being made available by the Australian Industry Development Corporation to help establish this project. One of the matters we debated in the Senate earlier today was centralism. We were accused of fostering centralism in Canberra. We are now trying to overcome that and to fund this project with Australian money. We should see whether we can fund it with our own money. Why should the South Australian Government or even the Federal Government have to go cap in hand to other sources for money to fund this development of the Redcliffs project when we can do it, if the Bill is passed in the Senate without any of the skulduggery and humbug which we have heard today. The people of South Australia are so disturbed by this action that a resolution was passed in the South Australian Parliament yesterday, the terms of which I know have been sent to all Liberal Party senators by urgent telegram which asked them to give their full support to the measure now before the Senate.

Senator Young - Was it unanimous, as the other one was against Mr Connor?

Senator McLAREN - I am not saying that it was unanimous. But this resolution was passed by the South Australian Parliament. I want to quote the telegram in its proper context for the benefit of those people who are concerned that Australia should be able to develop its own project without having to seek foreign capital to achieve this end. The telegram was sent by Mr Des Corcoran, the Acting Premier of South Australia. It states:

I advise that the South Australian House of Assembly on 27 November 1973 passed the following resolution: 'That this House is of the opinion that in seeking to amend the Australian Industry Development Corporation Act 1 970 and to pass the National Investment Fund Bill 1973 the Australian Government is acting to ensure a proper level of Australian equity and the maintenance of a high proportion of Australian participation in major Australian industrial development without resort by the Australian IDC to oversea borrowing; that the successful passing of these Bills is essential for the proper development of the Redcliffs project in this State and that this House desires that this State's representatives in the Australian Senate should be speedily informed of this opinion '.

This resolution was carried in the South Australian Parliament yesterday. This message has been transmitted to South Australian senators seeking their support to ensure that these Bills go through this House because of their vital importance to the development of South Australia and in particular the petro-chemical industry of South Australia. Many speeches have been made and questions asked in this House over recent weeks on the decision taken by Mr Connor who in his wisdom saw fit to stand up even against the South Australian Premier to see that the Redcliffs project was developed by Australians with as much Australian capital as possible.

Senator Byrnehas moved an amendment which seeks to defer the legislation now before us and to refer it to the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control. The honourable senator altered his amendment to ensure that the Committee reports back to the Senate some time in March.

Senator Byrne - No, not later than March.

Senator McLAREN - That is a terrific postponement. The South Australian Government has negotiated with the companies involved on the basis that the construction of this project should start 6 months hence. I am speaking as a South Australian senator now. Honourable senators opposite always accuse Government senators of being led by the nose. Senator Byrne's amendment envisages that this legislation will be deferred to not later than 12 March. But I remind honourable senators that we have had the experience of another committee, which has as its chairman an independent senator, and which was supposed to report back to the Senate by a certain time. The chairman of that committee came to the Senate and sought an extension of time. This is the sort of device that could be used to indefinitely defer this legislation. If the legislation is not passed now this industry could be lost to South Australia. If it is lost, the South Australian Labor senators will not be to blame; the blame will rest with Opposition senators.

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