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Wednesday, 13 May 1987
Page: 3078

Mr BRAITHWAITE —Did the Minister for Trade know 12 months before the collapse of tin trading on the London Metals Exchange that the International Tin Council was buying buffer stock, well in excess of member country contributions? Was he also told five months before tin trading collapsed that the Council's debts would have to be met by member countries including Australia? Why did he not give specific instructions to limit Australia's liability for purchases by the Tin Council in excess of member country contributions? Does the Minister bear responsibility for the writ and the possible $45m claim on Australia?

Mr DAWKINS —The views and activities of the honourable member for Dawson on this matter are quite extraordinary. He has sought to admit Australia's liability whereas Australia's position, and my position, has been to leave that matter to be resolved through the normal court processes. The honourable member is fully aware that this is a matter which is being currently litigated. It is a matter which the Australian Government is obviously involved in as a member of the Tin Council. I do not intend to prejudge what might be the results of that court action which has been taken. However, at all times we acted responsibly. Of course, we could not act unilaterally. We are members of the Council, and we acted in concert with the other members of the Council. I think that in every way we have acted to limit Australia's liability. But if, in the end, it comes to the point that there is a liability established for Australia in relation to this matter, we will have to consider the position at that time.