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Thursday, 29 November 1973
Page: 2363

Senator LAWRIE (QUEENSLAND) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:

(1)   Will the Minister make available to the Senate a statement showing the amount of liquid-fuel reserves held in Australia.

(2)   What is the length of time that these reserves are expected to last during an emergency.

(3)   How long would it take to introduce a plan to share the available fuel amongst essential services.

Senator Wriedt - The Minister for Minerals and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   and (2) Australia's proven indigenous oil reserves total about 8 years' production at current rates and supply about 70 per cent of our total needs. We are almost self-sufficient in motor spirit and our reliance on imports is principally for heavy fuel oil, lubricating oil and bitumen. There is some flexibility in refinery processes so that more of one product can be made at the cost of less of another.

(3)   No need for a motor spirit rationing scheme is foreseen. Sharing of heavy fuel oil amongst essential services could be introduced at short notice.


Senator Wriedt -On 26 September 1973, Senator Young addressed the following question, without notice, to the Minister for Primary Industry.

Will the cost of the application of superphosphate on developmental land still be 100 per cent deductible in the year of application as in the case of other costs of production.

The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

There is no proposal to change the income tax law in relation to the allowance of deductions for the costs of applying superphosphate or other fertilizers to land used in a business of primary production. Such costs will qualify in the same way as they formerly did as outright deductions in the year the expenditure is incurred.

Doctors' Fees

Senator Willesee - On 6 November 1973, Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson asked the Minister representing the Treasurer a question without notice, dealing with the current inquiry by the Medical Fees Tribunal into specialist fees- in particular those relating to anaesthetists. The honourable senator sought qualifications to Press reports which had suggested that, in obtaining evidence for presentation to the Tribunal, there was access to the income tax returns of private individuals.

The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

An investigation of medical fees received by anaesthetists was not made in the Australian Taxation Office. However, in 1971 the Taxation Office conducted a statistical survey of the incomes and deductions of medical practitioners, and the results of that survey included information on medical practitioners who fell into several specialty groups including the group anaesthetists.

A summary of the results of the medical practitioners survey was made available to the Medical Fees Tribunal, but these survey figures of course did not include details of individual taxpayers' incomes and deductions. The Commissioner of Taxation, with whom I have discussed the question, expressed grave concern at the manner in which the matter had been reported by some sections of the press. He wished it to be understood that there had been no access by persons outside the Australian Taxation Office to income tax returns and that - details of individual taxpayers' affairs were not included in the survey results that were supplied to the Medical Fees Tribunal.

Qantas Airways Ltd: Price Increase

Senator Murphy - On Tuesday, 20 November, Senator Withers asked me whether Qantas Airways Limited would be required to justify the proposed 6 per cent increase in air fares which is being recommended by the International Air Transport Association. The Prime Minister has now furnished me with the following information:

The answer is yes. Under regulation 106a of the Air Navigation Regulations, international air service operators must submit to the Director-General of Civil Aviation their tariff of charges for the carriage of persons and cargo. The DirectorGeneral may approve, approve subject to such variations as he directs, or reject the tariff and direct the adoption instead of such tariff as he considers fair and reasonable for the service provided.

Senator Withersalso referred to the Prices Justification Tribunal in his question. Qantas Airways Limited did apply to the Tribunal for exemption from the notification provisions of the Prices Justification Act. I am advised that, in view of the position under the Air Navigation Regulations, the Tribunal granted the desired exemption on 8 October.

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