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Tuesday, 26 November 1985
Page: 2291

Senator WALSH (Mininster for Finance and Acting Minister for Resources and Energy)(9.46) —I cannot guarantee the precision of some of the answers that I will give. Senator MacGibbon asked for the reasons for the Government's decision. I was the Minister responsible at the time and I can give him some of them. Foremost amongst those reasons was that if oil production were locked in in Bass Strait or, indeed, anywhere else for want of a market it is reasonable to assume, and the Government made the judgment, that that would have a depressing effect on oil exploration activity. Senator MacGibbon asked whether there was any ceiling on the amount of crude oil that can be exported. The answer is no, there is no ceiling per se, but the Government monitors the prices at which oil is exported. As to the revenue earned from oil exports, I am fairly uncertain but from memory it was of the order of $1.7 billion in the last financial year. However, it ought to be borne in mind that Australia is still a significant net importer of oil.

Senator MacGibbon —I am aware of that, but what percentage would that be of our export earnings? Would it be 10 per cent, 30 per cent or 2 per cent?

Senator WALSH —If my figure of $1.7 billion is correct, it is of the order of 4 or 5 per cent.