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Wednesday, 26 April 1961

Mr Whitlam m asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -

1.   Did he, in October or November, 1959, promise the then Leader of the Opposition that he would obtain fuller information from our overseas posts concerning the capital and published profit of each of the shipping companies in the Australia-United Kingdom/Continent Shipping Conference over a period of years, and did he promise me on 12th November, 1959, that when this information was received he would make it available to the House?

2.   Did he receive this information and will he make it available to the House?

Mr McEwen - The answers to the honorable member's questions are: -

1.   Yes.

2.   On 13th October, 1960, the honorable member asked the following question, upon notice: -

What has been (a) capital and (b) published profits of each of the shipping companies in the Australia-United Kingdom/ Continent Shipping Conference in each of the last ten years?

On the 23rd November, 1960, I replied to the honorable member that -

(a)   I had established that to obtain such information would involve the Department of Trade in extensive and protracted investigation of nongovernmental material which is equally accessible to any one interested in these matters;

(b)   Even if the balance-sheets were obtained for the ten year period for each of the twenty-two shipping companies of the Australia-United Kingdom/Continent Shipping Conference, considerable work would still be required to present the information required in a form which would be meaningful. (This is particularly true of the manner in which variations in capital were made by individual companies.);

(c)   In the circumstances I was unable to undertake to furnish the information which the honorable member sought.

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