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Tuesday, 20 September 1960

Mr McEWEN (MURRAY, VICTORIA) (Minister for Trade) - A vast expansion both of the steel industry and the paper industry is proceeding in Australia. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is engaged on a vast plan of expansion of production, expending, I think, about £30,000,000 a year in capital expenditure towards that end. It is a fact that importation of steel has been heavy recently. I think that that is explainable by the fact that the current level of demand for steel in Australia is about 20 per cent, higher than it was twelve months ago. This accounts for the figures which the honorable member cited. But the July figures cannot be multiplied by twelve and taken as the annual rate. My information is that in July there was a substantial importation of hot coil strip steel from Japan by John Lysaght (Australia) Proprietary Limited, an associate of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, because of a short-fall in production there and partly for the purpose of processing for re-export. So this would not result in a net loss of exchange. On the other hand, it is not economic to pro duce some steel products in Australia, and we normally import them. With regard to paper, it is not very long since the technique of producing paper from Australian hardwood was developed. There has been a constant progressive expansion of the Australian paper-making industry since then. I am glad to say that we import quite a deal of paper and pulp from New Zealand, a country which is a very good buyer of our goods. We are very glad to be the most important buyer of New Zealand's paper products.

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