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Wednesday, 27 September 1972
Page: 1273

Senator WEBSTER (Victoria) - The urgency motion brought forward by the Australian Labor Party is certainly, as it was previously described, quite hollow. The attitude of Labor in attempting to chase this matter is completely false. The Minister well described the attitude of Labor and the unions to attempting to maintain employment in this country. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) has sufficient commercial intelligence to know the effect of the attitude of his own party at this time in relation to tariff protection which is surely at the heart of this argument. The attitude of the Labor Party in relation to devaluation of the Australian dollar is well known in the community. It is completely hollow for honourable senators opposite to stand here and say that they have a great interest in seeing that benefit is secured for an Australian manufacturer. On 27th August this year when the Leader of the Opposition in the other place (Mr Whitlam) was being asked on an Australian Broadcasting Commission programme about inflation he said:

Yes, 1 agree with that entirely. I think the Australian dollar is under valued. . . .

Senator Jessop - Who said that?

Senator WEBSTER - Mr Whitlam said that. That is a reflection to which manufacturers in this country can give attention. In the same context on the same programme Mr Whitlam said:

In general terms, yes, I do believe that tariffs in Australia in general terms are too high.

Here we have the declaration of the Opposition as to what it really feels about protection of Australian industries. This matter is of great importance. We should feel particularly proud that an Australian company such as the Australian Gas Light Co. can be considered or can consider itself of such enormous commercial significance that it is entitled to enter into a proposition where so many millions of dollars will be spent in the Australian national interest of supplying fuel to the Sydney and New South Wales market. I consider that any action which we take in this Senate should not detract from the free ability of any commercial enterprise in Australia to buy from Australian sources should it so desire, or from overseas sources should it find that commercially more viable, so long as it has some reference to the laws which exist in Australia and so long as every opportunity is given to Australian manufacturers to enter reasonable competition for supply of the goods required. I believe that would be in line with what the Australian Gas Light Co. ownership would desire. By direction I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

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