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Wednesday, 17 October 1973
Page: 2234

Mr LUCHETTI (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Will the Minister for Minerals and Energy please clarify the present relationship between the Pipeline Authority and the Australian Gas Light Co. in relation to the construction of the GidgealpaSydney pipeline? Is the Minister in a position to give definite dates for the commencement and completion of the work?

Mr CONNOR (CUNNINGHAM, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Minerals and Energy) - I welcome this question from the honourable member for Macquarie. It is time that the true position was stated clearly in view of the Press propaganda of Sir William Pettingell on behalf of the Australian Gas Light Co. The pipes for the pipeline are the property of the Commonwealth of Australia. It is a piece of impertinence on his part to suggest that an Act of the Commonwealth Parliament is invalid and that the onus of proof is on the Commonwealth Government. In point of fact the Act is perfectly valid. We have had an opinion to this effect not only from our own legal officers but also from outside eminent counsel. Regarding the exact position of the Pipeline Authority I quote from, and will table, a copy of a telex which was sent by Mr Donald, the Executive Member of the Authority, to Mr Butters of East Australian Pipelines Corporation which has been used, by agreement, as the intermediary for construction. In relation to a statement that was made that it had let a contract for the lining of the pipes, for their proofing, for some SI 4m which, of course, would be paid for by the Commonwealth, the telex read:

I am sorry that our request for an announcement agreed on between your Company and the Authority has been disregarded, but it is a much more serious matter that before obtaining the consent of this Authority you have informed the tenderers that they would be awarded the above contracts.

The pipes are the property of the Australian Government and under its custody and control. The Pipeline Authority will proceed with the construction of the pipeline strictly in conformity with the requirements of the Pipeline Authority Act.

Therefore, it will be necessary to inform the successful tenderers that:

That is, the tenderers for the lining of the pipes -

1.   The pipes are, as stated above, the property of the Australian Government and are in the Authority's custody and at its disposal.

There was a television program last night to the contrary -

2.   Deliveries of pipes will be made under the supervision of the Pipeline Authority and under the terms of its Act.

3.   The necessary access will be given by the servants of the Pipeline Authority to successful tenderers so that work may proceed without delay.

4.   The pipes will be released progressively by the Authority as required for laying along a route approved by the Authority.

The Authority is prepared to allow that contracts be entered into and proceed provided that:

(i)   Tenderers are informed as above.

(ii)   A clause is incorporated in each contract between your company and the successful tenderers clearly stating that the pipes are the property of the Australian Government.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I would ask the Minister to make his answer as brief as possible. I have made appeals week after week to this effect.

Mr CONNOR - The telex continues:

(iii)   The contract documents contain a clause to the effect that the contract may be assigned . . .

(iv)   The contracts as finally drawn have our approval . . .

Payment . . . will be made by the Australian Government through the Pipeline Authority in accordance with the approved contracts.

I table a copy of the telex.

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