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Tuesday, 30 November 1971
Page: 3796


Mr O'KEEFE (PATERSON, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. Is the Japanese steel industry proposing to restrict its output? Is this affecting the supply of Australian coal to Japan? Have the continuous strikes in the Australian coal industry also had a serious effect on coal supplies to Japan? Will the Minister tell the House the current situation with regard to coal supplies to this important market?


Mr SWARTZ - lt is a fact that the steel industry throughout the world has suffered from a minor recession and that this has been accentuated in some degree by the world monetary crisis, particularly as it involves the relationship between the United States and Japan. As a result the Japanese steel industry, in consonance with the industries in other countries throughout the world, has been revising the estimates of output that it previously had made. The last figures that the Japanese gave were significantly lower than the estimates that it had previously given for the period up to 1975. Not only has this revision affected the supply of iron ore, particularly from Australia; it has also had an effect on the supply of coal. In answer to a question by the honourable member recently I indicated that there had been a decline in exports of coal but that they had found a new level and that 1 thought that level would remain fairly constant for some time, and that we would expect the level to rise as soon as the steel industry throughout the world picked up, as we expect it will before very long.

The position with regard to supplies is that we have been able to build up our stocks in Australia to meet all our commitments. Some adjustments have been made at various places where, due to industrial problems, there has been a slight slowing down in production. This has been the case particularly in the State of New South Wales although the situation has now recovered somewhat and we are able to meet al) requirements as they come forward. At present we have sufficient stocks to meet Japanese requirements for coal and I think that position will continue.







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