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Thursday, 20 April 1961

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Luchetti (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If an honorable member claims to have been intimidated he has the forms of the House to protect him.

Mr BARNES - Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. For the benefit of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) I claim that it was attempted intimidation.

Mr Beazley - That is the same thing.

Mr BARNES - At any rate, I will not be intimidated on this occasion. We all applaud the Government's efforts to promote exports by our secondary industries so that they will be able to share some of the burden that is at present falling so heavily on the shoulders of the primary producers. There are many opportunities for a great forward step in the development of secondary industries in a much more positive way than perhaps the Government's measures envisage. The Government should use all of its endeavours to attract an overseas steel industry to Australia. We are exporting, or about to export, large quantities of iron ore. There is no need for me to point out to honorable members that we have in Australia tremendous stocks of coal. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has shown that it is able to produce steel and steel products which will compete with those of any other country. Unfortunately, its capacity is such that it is unable to supply Australia's requirements and at the same time build up a substantial export trade. I do not think that the company has the financial capacity to establish an industry sufficiently large to make any great impact on our overseas funds.

Mr Jones - Is it not a fact that the B.H.P. has £31.000,000 invested in Commonwealth bonds?

Mr BARNES - Obviously the honorable member for Newcastle is again seeking to detract from the suggestion that I am advancing which would be of great assistance to Australia. It would be a mistake to consider only our future domestic requirements of iron ore. We should look to Australia becoming one of the largest, if not the largest, centres of heavy industry in the southern hemisphere. Our reserves of iron ore and coal are so great that we could supply steel and steel products to meet not only our own requirements but also those of Africa, the Far East and South America. If this industry could be expanded in the way that I have suggested, we would provide thousands of high standard jobs for Australians and for our immigrants. The ideal site for such an industry would be at the port of Gladstone in Queensland. Gladstone has a first-class harbour and is adjacent to one of the largest coal deposits in Australia. This Government is anxious to advance the interests of Queensland, and an industry at Gladstone would help to build up the population in a sub-tropical area.

The presence of a basic industry would also assist our overseas trading services. Large tonnages are usually carried by charter, and the ships engaged in this trade could take quite a quantity of primary products from Australia. For example, the trade mission which visited South America reported there were opportunities there for the sale of a few tons of butter, cheese and other primary products here and there. We are not getting that trade now because there is no shipping service. If we had a steel industry using ships which went to other countries with basic cargoes, an opportunity would be presented to export primary products as well. If we act now, we can establish an industry before similar rival industries start in Asian countries. Probably it will be a few years before they are in active operation, but as the standard of living rises in Asia consumption of steel and steel products will increase considerably. I believe there would be an opportunity also to attract overseas steel interests to Australia.

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