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Wednesday, 16 August 1972
Page: 55

Senator MCAULIFFE - My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Is the Minister aware that the ship building industry is claiming that unless the Government's policy on ship building is drastically altered it will destroy, first, Australia's capacity to build large ships and eventually the entire ship building industry? Is the Minister also aware that Evans Deakin, Brisbane, was low bidder on a tanker in December 1971 and a competitive bidder on a tanker in March 1972 in which overseas owners Caltex and Shell were involved? Is the Minister also aware that Caltex and Shell withheld the orders due to uncanny anticipation of radical changes to the Government's ship building policy and are now likely to call tenders overseas? Will the Minister assure the Senate that he will do all in his power to prevent any run down in the ship building industry and protect the jobs of thousands of Australians?

Senator COTTON - I am aware of none of these things. I cannot confirm or deny any of the assertions made, proper or improper. What I do know from listening to Senate estimates debates relating to the Department of Shipping and Transport is that a very substantial sum of money is made available by the Australian Government to support Australian ship building. The Government has done everything it can to further that process. Some of the problems, of course, come out of the cost structure of the Australian industry which is not helped by recurrent industrial problems. So I suggest that if the honourable senator has a concern about this he might direct his attention to some of these areas. For my part I will find out what I can for him in regard to the balance of his question.

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