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Tuesday, 19 November 1974
Page: 2469

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - I preface my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate by referring to the fact that the quadrupled price of imported oil is a major factor in high inflation overseas and that Australia, because it is 70 per cent self-sufficient in oil, is virtually free of that crippling economic burden. In view of this I ask: Why is the Government strangling Australia's oil exploration and production industries? Does the Government recognise that every act of discouragement of our oil industries is a step towards the destruction of our strongest fortress against imported inflation?

Senator MURPHY - I thought everyone in Australia had come round to recognising the wisdom of the Minister for Minerals and Energy when he acted decisively to see that Australia had control of its own mineral resources, especially oil. Honourable senators will recall that one of the first steps of the Government was to introduce a regulation under the Customs Act under which the export of minerals, including oil, was prohibited without the consent of the Minister for Minerals and Energy. The Minister has used that regulation and has used his other authorities and functions to protect Australia's resources. I am sure that he will do everything he can to see that Australia is independent, as far as it can be, in its access to oil and that as far as possible oil will be obtained on terms which will be the best for the Australian people, including Australian industry and commence.

I think the Leader of the Country Party in the Senate must recognise that the Minister for Minerals and energy has been far-sighted. He has had to deal with an oil industry which has tentacles all around the world. It is quite apparent that when he does things he is doing them in the interests of Australia and more and more the people of Australia are coming to realise that what he is doing is, in fact, helpful to Australia. I think the honourable senator ought to be applauding the Minister for Minerals and Energy for his actions.

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