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Hawke causes steel deal to drag on



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17 .

MEDIA RELEASE 12 APRIL 1985

OPPOSITION SPOKESMAN ON TRADE HON TOM MCVEIGH

HAWKE CAUSES STEEL DEAL TO DRAG ON

The Chinese Steel Deal would now have been finalised if the Prime Minister, Mr. Hawke, had refrained from consistent exageration of the Deal's progress in boyish enthusiasm to conclude his first international trade agreement.

Opposition Spokesman on Trade, Mr. Tom McVeigh today said Pilbara iron ore and Kwinana steel producers are paying the price for Mr. Hawke's enthusiastic inexperience in world trading matters.

"The Deal was ready to be finalised 10 days ago but with the Australian Embassy in China issuing bullish statements indicating the contracts were almost signed, sealed and delivered, the Chinese baulked.

Mr. McVeigh said the Australian Embassy was negligent in talking up the finalisation of negotiations which caused the Chinese to delay in the hope of obtaining a more acceptable deal during their upcoming visit to Australia.

He said the Chinese agreed to a price three weeks ago but they have now indicated they wish to wait until the furnace is opened before, finalising a price. Australian producers cannot accept such an economically unsound proposition.

"In effect, the Prime Minister was a victim of his own propaganda. He conveyed the impression the Australian Government would bend over backwards to clinch the deal, irrespective of commercial judgement.

Mr. McVeigh said China clearly believes it can clinch an advantageous deal whilst there is a Prime Minister desperate to resurrect the growing number of international faux pas he has made.

"The only option for the Prime Minister to persue without causing any further delays or damage to the negotiations is to guarantee stability and continuity of supply to the Chinese. The Australian Government must remove itself from the negotiations and let market

forces determine the outcome," Mr. McVeigh said.

CONTACT— TOM MCVEIGH 076-32 41 44