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Wednesday, 28 March 1973
Page: 773

Mr FAIRBAIRN (FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - When the Minister for Minerals and Energy referred to leaders in the mining industry as hillbillies and mugs, was this a reference to the fact that these people were unable to prevent heavy losses to their companies when the Australian dollar was revalued? Is he aware that most of these companies attempted to cover themselves against revaluation but that such cover could be arranged only under limited conditions and at a significant cost? Is he also aware that at the time when most of the iron ore contracts were written it was virtually impossible to write them in anything but United States dollars and that any clauses on revaluation would be legally unenforceable? If this is so, what does he think the mines should have done to cover themselves against these losses?

Mr CONNOR - There are none so blind as those who will not see. For quite a number of years it has been common knowledge that the American dollar was on the downgrade. For a similar period it has been well known that the former government was prepared to adopt a wholly subservient attitude to the United States. As far back as 1959 the First National City Bank was issuing warnings as to the stability of the United States dollar. The Bank of International Settlements was doing exactly the same, as was the International Monetary Fund. The late President Kennedy was gravely concerned about maintaining the amount of the gold reserves of the United States. In 1965 General de Gaulle insisted on getting $4 billion worth of gold from the United States. In 1966 the former Government chose to impose, through the Reserve Bank of Australia, this obligation on quite a number of people. The so-called captains of industry were, in fact, hillbillies, and that goes for quite a number of members of the then Govenment which was supposed to be advising them.

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