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Tuesday, 29 October 1974
Page: 2023

Senator RAE (TASMANIA) - My question, which is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, follows a question asked earlier and the answer given by the Minister relating to multi-national corporations. Is the Minister aware that the extent of the crashes resulting from the Government's economic policies has so far been substantially reduced by the propping up which a certain significant number of Australian finance, development and other companies have received from multi-national financial institutions arranging funds from overseas so that the Australian companies can avoid the results of the excesses of the credit squeeze in Australia? Have these multi-nationals saved not only the companies but also, so far, the Government? Does the proposed visit overseas of Dr Cairns mean that the Government now acknowledges that multi-national finance can serve a useful purpose for Australia?

Senator MURPHY - The multi-national corporations are ah extremely important feature of the economic life of the world. Question time is hardly the occasion on which to discuss their role, the benefits that flow from their operations, and the difficulties that arise when they are straddling national borders. Multi-nationals are a fact of economic life, and to take some attitude of just being opposed to them or ignoring the role they play would be foolish. The honourable senator asks about the collapse of companies inside Australia. It is quite obvious that some of these companies conducted their financial operations quite recklessly, and this has been stated. I think the Chairman of the Stock Exchange said that there ought not to be any sympathy for some of them. Some of them have invested long-term and borrowed short in order to do it. Some of them helped in creating tremendous speculation in property, and they suffered when their speculation did not work out properly.

Many of these things have been exposed by the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. The honourable senator ought to be well aware of the recklessness of some of the operations which were conducted. It is true that support came from various sources to prop up companies which otherwise may have failed. In some cases this support no doubt is to the benefit of those companies as well as to the multinationals concerned, and it may be to the benefit of Australia. I do not know the circumstances of the situation. But it is rather wrong of the honourable senator to speak as though the Government were responsible and ought to be charged with the blame for failure where there has been recklessness and imprudence on the part of some of the financial corporations.

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