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Wednesday, 24 October 1973
Page: 1393

Senator LAUCKE (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Yesterday Mr Connor, the Minister for Minerals and Energy, made a statement referring to the efforts of the Premier of South Australia in regard to the establishment of a petrochemical works at Redcliffs in South Australia. The Minister said:

No longer will any State Premier usurp the functions of the Federal Government. No longer will any State Premier go overseas to negotiate contracts in respect of Australia's resources. That will be done through the Australian National Government.

Can this unequivocal statement be taken as an announcement of the firm policy of the Government in the area of trade? If so, does it mean that all State governments might as well close their overseas trade missions for the tenure of office of this Government?

Senator MURPHY -There is no doubt that trade and commerce with overseas countries is constitutionally within the competence of the Australian Parliament.

Senator Wright - As a concurrent power with the States.

Senator MURPHY -Senator Wright interjects correctly to say: 'As concurrent power with the States'. There is also no doubt that the Parliament has authorised the Government to take certain action, and over the years certain delegated legislation has been enacted which gives the Australian Government power to regulate overseas trade in various ways. For example, one of the Customs Regulations prevents the export of minerals and energy producing substances without the consent of the Minister for Minerals and Energy. It may be that the Minister was speaking in the context that unless the Australian Government was satisfied that the export of such minerals or such energy producing materials was thought to be proper it would not be permitted. I think that if regard is had to the context there is no need for anyone to get overheated about the matter.

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