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Tuesday, 26 September 1972
Page: 1136

Senator SIM (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. I refer to a decision by the Australian Gas Light Company to accept a Japanese tender of S54m for steel pipe. Is it a fact that the General Manager of AGL has stated that Tubemakers of Australia Ltd indicated in writing that it could not manufacture steel pipes of 36-inch diameter? Does Australia seek the liberalisation of trade with Japan to gain easier access to the Japanese market for Australian agricultural and other products? If so, is not it time that Australia adopted a consistent trade policy and practised what it preaches? Is it a fact that Australian iron ore and coal would provide most of the raw material for the manufacture of the steel pipes? Finally, can the Government clearly define the term 'suitable and equivalent'?

Senator COTTON - I think it will be appreciated that a great part of this question will need to go on notice in order to get specific answers to the matters raised. It is perfectly true that there is a substantial imbalance between Japanese and Australian trade and that Australia depends greatly on exporting a wide range of commodities to Japan. Similarly Japan depends on its capacity to manufacture and sell abroad. The Department of Trade and Industry is engaged in negotiations on this matter. As soon as I have something which I can usefully report to my honourable colleagues I shall do so.

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