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Wednesday, 13 September 1972
Page: 1357

Mr SPEAKER -Order! This is an adjournment debate. If the honourable gentleman refers to a debate in this session or discusses a debate in this session he could be out of order.

Mr HURFORD - This was an adjournment speech. In that particular adjournment speech of the Minister he, I must confess, dumbfounded me by attacking me personally and suggesting that I had attacked him personally. I have studied the speech that I made. In it there were 2 occasions on which I mentioned the Minister. One was in relation to the fact that in my view he should have noted rather earlier than he apparently has, this matter of Sir Leslie Melville's report not being adhered to - the spirit of it. The words I used were:

The Commonwealth Government, and in particular, the Minister for Customs and Excise whom 1 did inform that I would be raising this matter tonight-

Mr Chipp - Adhered to by whom?

Mr HURFORD - Adhered to by the refining companies. Let me repeat my words for the Minister because I really honestly do not believe that he read my speech, otherwise he would not have made the speech that he did. One of the main arguments of my attack was that the price that Sir Leslie, in his arbiter's report, had decided upon was not being adhered to inasmuch as the refining companies were suggesting that Sir Leslie's price was an exrefinery price. They will not provide the petrol at the refinery ex refinery. They are providing it from a terminal some distance away. I say here and now that in my view - everything I have said is documented and I have made sure that I have it in writing from those who provided me with the information - the charges from the refinery to the terminal are being loaded and are unfair prices. I would be surprised if this has not been drawn to his attention, but I hope that the Minister will take it up from this point.

At any rate, I mentioned the Minister in that regard and I mentioned him once more in relation to the second matter of dumping duties on the Korean and other Asian petrol. I said:

So far this campaign has not succeeded but it is no thanks to the Government or to the present Minister for Customs and Excise.

That was the only time, if I may say so through you, Mr Speaker, that the Minister was mentioned personally. The Minister used certain words against me and you will remember, Mr Speaker, on that occasion I was precluded by the Standing Orders from making the sort of personal explanation that I would have liked to make. This is why I am on my feet to-night. In referring to me, the Minister said: 'He went on to attack me personally'. Later, he referred to the persona] venom which I allegedly directed against individuals po his side of the House and which was a personal characteristic of mine. I will have to leave it to other honourable members to decide whether indeed this is one of my characteristics. It certainly was not a characteristic of mine in this particular speech. Nevertheless, it is immaterial. As I have said, I leave it to other honourable members to decide as to whether it is a tactic I use in this House.

My point is that in his speech the Minister did not answer any one of the 3 points that I made against the policy of his

Department on this matter. He did not answer in relation to refinery prices of petrol. He did not clear up in any way the position concerning dumping duties on Asian petrol. He certainly did not say anything whatsoever about the demands of his Department calling for bankers' cheques for duties. I understand - perhaps he could correct me to this but it is my information - that bankers' cheques, or cash in other words, are not demanded for duties from the other companies.

The Minister hid behind the South Australian Prices Commissioner. In no way do I consider that the work of the South Australian Prices Commissioner in relation to oil and petrol is at all satisfactory. I would only draw to the attention of the Minister something that I have been told, namely, that the Prices Commissioner allows a profit of lc a gallon to the companies in deciding his price. The fact is that the companies are giving discounts of up to 10c per gallon in Victoria alone on their price of petrol, which shows just how ridiculous is the situation. I am not blaming the Prices Commissioner. He just does not have the facts. I do nol believe anybody in this country can get hold of the facts as to what is the true price of indigenous crude oil from the Middle East to these companies in Australia. I regret that I do not have time to show that rather than my attacks on the Minister being scurrilous his attacks on me were the main reason for my getting on my feet to drive home what I had to say in my speech against the policy of the Department not against the employees of the Department, for not ensuring that the small companies, which have only 0.5 per cent of the oil trade, are in some way protected so that they might provide some real competition against the large cartels.

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