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Prime Minister should dismiss his Minister because of his incompetence and untruths



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Office of the Leader of the Opposition

STATEMENT BY BILL HAYDEN, MP

CANBERRA 13 SEPTEMBER 1979

The Prime Minister should dismiss his Minister for National Development, Mr Newman, immediately.

Mr Newman can no longer be allowed to retain ministerial authority for Australia's fuel supplies.

His record of incompetence in the portfolio is appalling.

The Minister simply does not know what is happening, either in his Department or in the oil industry. .

He is constantly being caught out in half-truths, misrepresentation or outright ignorance. ,

On August 30, Mr Newman said publicly that further supplies this year of aviation gasoline from Iran were 'very uncertain'.

Yet four days earlier, on August 26, the Government was told Iran was exporting no more Avgas this year and could give no assurances about next year. .

Today, in Parliament, the Minister claimed there had been no 'formal' advice from Iran.

He is playing with words.

The Minister knows he took a document to Cabinet last Monday with details of Australia's fuel supplies. That document says, quite specifically: .

'The national Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) advised Foreign Affairs on 26 August that:

.there will be no exports during the remainder of 1979

.it is not yet in a position to determine export availability for 1980 but possibly will be able to do so in October/November.'

There is no suggestion this is 'informal* advice. It is a bald .: statement in a Cabinet document from the Minister's own Department.

There is just as much confusion about supplies of diesel fuel and petrol.

The same Cabinet document claims the Sydney refineries are holding 'less than three days' stocks of petrol.

Caltex today denied this outright. It said the Kurnell Refinery was holding ten days supply of petrol.

The Parliament and the people are simply not being told the truth.