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Thursday, 6 December 1973
Page: 2541

Senator KANE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I ask: Has the Minister's attention been drawn to a statement made yesterday and reported in today's 'Australian' by Mr P. Sleigh, Managing Director of H. C. Sleigh Ltd? Is the Minister aware that Mr Sleigh has said that his company and the Broken Hill Pty Co. will drop their plans for the construction of a joint $50m oil refinery project in Newcastle? Is the Minister aware that the obstructionism of the Minister for Minerals and Energy throughout the petroleum mining and associated industries is seriously aggravating the difficulties Australia will face with the increasing world oil shortage? Will the Minister ask the Prime Minister to give serious thought to transferring the Minister for Minerals and Energy to a less sensitive portfolio?

Senator MURPHY -I certainly would not convey the latter suggestion. May I say that the wisdom and foresight of the Minister for Minerals and Energy has been realised by the whole community. There has been a lot of criticism of the Minister, who, very soon after he came into his portfolio, took steps to ensure that Australia was put in the best position possible to beat the energy crisis. He has been away ahead of the rest of the world in his thinking. The steps he has taken have put Australia in the situation where it is able to face the future in a much better position than are most other countries. Such resources as we have- in some fields they are meagre and in other fields they are vast-are clearly going to be used to the advantage of the Australian people. Had it not been for the vigorous efforts of Mr Connor it is quite clear that those energy resources would have come under the domination of others who, for their own interests- and no one could blame them- would see that they were used to the advantage of other countries or other interests.

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