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Tuesday, 18 September 1973
Page: 1144

Mr VINER (Stirling) - This has been a strange debate. I have sat here and listened to the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) say at the beginning of his remarks that abuse is no argument and then proceed to heap more abuse on the Opposition than we have heard in the House for a long time. Then the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) bought into the debate and tried to heap further abuse. The tragedy of the honourable member for Blaxland is that a man of such obviously immense prospects in the Government can so debase himself as to allow himself to be but the lackey of the Minister for Minerals and Energy. He cannot even pronounce the name Paraburdoo' properly.

Let it be made clear to the public that this Government has not established one new viable proposition in the minerals industry. The great increases in production and export income of which the Minister and the honourable member for Blaxland have spoken have all resulted from development which occurred during the life of the previous Government. The Minister would not know how to embark upon the establishment of an enterprise as large as the exploration of the iron ore fields in the north-west of Western Australia. The Minister would not know how to embark upon oil and gas exploration to the extent that it has been going on in the north-west of Western Australia. He would not have the first idea of the technology needed to explore offshore. Yet this Minister attempts to take the credit for it.

The abysmal ignorance of the honourable member for Blaxland is to be seen in his single statement that the extractive industries do not need to explore any more. What abysmal ignorance when it is said, for example, against the statement that the oil reserves of Australia will last for 8 years. That means that this country needs to carry on all the exploration that it can, whether it be done by overseas companies joining in partnership with Australian companies or by Australian companies themselves. It will not come as a result of the actions of a government such as we have and the actions of a Minister such as we have. Abuse is heaped upon overseas companies. But let it be clear that the Liberal Party recognises the "value which overseas companies can introduce into Australia in terms of money, technology and experience. The national interest of Australia will be served by giving those companies incentives to come to Australia and to explore, so that we can identify the oil and gas reserves that we require. At the same time we should let those companies know the guidelines for action which Australia considers are necessary to protect the Australian national interest. (Quorum formed.)

Sitting suspended from 1.1 to 2.15 p.m.

Mr SPEAKER - The discussion on the matter of public importance is concluded.

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