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Oil and uranium

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Statement by the leader of the Country Party, Mr. Anthony

For the second time in six months, the Prime Minister has

attempted to take a hand in energy policy. But, just as the Government1;

announcement in November was a stage-managed attempt to meet the requests

of the Japanese Government, so too this announcement on oil exploration

is equally meaningless. '

Last night's announcement reveals how abysmally ignorant the

Government is of what needs to be done to salvage our collapsed oil

search effort.

It would be futile to imagine that foreign companies are going to

undertake oil exploration, one of the most risky of all business enter­

prises , without any firm indication of what the position will be if oil

is discovered.

The position of oil exploration in this country requires much more

positive action than these vague and meaningless statements.

The Government has not indicated any policy changes which would

give companies an incentive to undertake oil exploration in Australia.

It is still more attractive to look for oil overseas than in Australia. The Government should restore taxation incentive for oil exploration, and

state■policies which will give explorers security of title over leases an

confidence to undertake costly exploration programmes. .

In order to maintain 70 per cent self sufficiency in oil productic

$2,000 million in investment is required over the next 10 years.

No explorer will want to go through the same experience as the

Woodside-Burmah consortium, which has been waiting for over two years to

find out what, if anything, the Government is going to allow it to do wit

the natural gas it has discovered on the north-west Shelf.

The Government's, and especially the Prime Minister's, total

ignorance of practical matters is illustrated by this latest attempt to reverse a situation of the Government's own making by uttering some

vague and meaningless formula of words.

Last November, the Prime Minister attempted in a similar manner

to produce a coherent policy on uranium. *

However, although the. Prime Minister- issued a vague statement

concerning the Government' s intentions regarding Australiar·/Japanese

co-operation in uranium development, the Government's policies on uranium development are still as' ever.

. The Minister for Minerals and Energy has used every

" opportunity to frustrate the development of the Ranger uranium

project by raising objections on minor matters and making

impossible demands on the Ranger partners.

The Minister is pursuing a policy of attempting to gain

control of uranium by back-door methods of forcing the companies

which hold title to the leases into an impossible financial

position. . . .

By doing so he has misled the Japanese Government in a most serious way.

Australians and the Japanese Prime Minister were led to

believe last year that an agreement had been reached between

the Australian Government and the Ranger partners which would

allow the supply of yellowcake between 197 6 and 1985.

The Ranger project is now bogged down because of the

impossible demands being made by the Minister for Minerals and Energy

It is now impossible for the consortium to meet the first

. requirement of their contract with the Japanese from the Ranger

deposit. , . .

The Japanese Government as well as the Ranger consortium

are extremely worried at the lack of progress and cannot obtain

from the Minister any indication of when development of the

Ranger project will begin.

Canberra '

13th March, 1975