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Thursday, 17 August 1972
Page: 367

Mr HAYDEN (Oxley) - I would like to raise some questions. The first is this: Why is it necessary to push this Bill through so quickly? I have no doubt that there is reasonable justification for it but I would like to know why. The Bill was presented to this House only last night and it is the sort of matter about which I would like much more information. As the Minister for External Territories (Mr Peacock) knows, I contacted him last week some time seeking fairly comprehensive details relating to the companies involved in this merger transaction.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)Order!It is advisable to raise these questions during the debate on the motion for the third reading.

Mr HAYDEN - I am speaking to the amendment. Why not finish the thing and get it out of the way? It will take only another 30 seconds. Speaking to the amendment, what I really wanted was specific details of the sorts of conditions under which the newly merged organisation is to operate and the conditions under which the previous organisation operated. I am advised - admittedly I have no way of verifying this - that people outside this place, members of the Australian public, had some interest in this area and that they sought details on previous occasions about annual balance sheets and so on but were unable to obtain that sort of information.

Mr Peacock - From whom did they request the information?

Mr HAYDEN - I understand that they did so from the Commonwealth Government and from people involved in the timber industry. I do not know how right this is or whether it is correct.

Mr Peacock - It is better to be right when you are saying things like that.

Mr HAYDEN - I am saying that I do not know how correct this is. That is why I contacted the Minister. I sought this information in order to make up my own mind. The position we are in is that the Minister has not supplied the information in response to my queries yet we are expected to vote on this Bill. I would like to know what the royalty rate is. I have been told, for instance - I do not know whether it is right or not and have had no choice but to raise this sort of question now because of the speed with which this Bill is being pushed through, whereas I would have preferred to have been accurately informed - that the cost of timber supplied through Commonwealth New Guinea Timbers Ltd has been incredibly low compared with the cost of similar timber purchased in Australia. Even allowing for the higher cost structures here, the people interested cannot relate these 2 prices. There is some feeling that perhaps the people of New Guinea have not been getting the best return for their natural resources.

I would like to have had considerably more information on the . subject of royalties. It may well be that the Minister is right in saying that there is no substance in these sorts of queries which have been put to me, and by inference that is what he suggests, but I feel obliged to raise them and have no choice but to raise them at this stage because I have no other information available. I would be appreciative of the information if he is in a position to give it to me now.

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