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Tuesday, 19 August 1980
Page: 441

Mr Holding asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 14 May 1980:

(1)   Has the Minister's attention been drawn to increasing public (a) interest in the aluminium industry and (b) awareness of the (i) possible financial and social costs of that industry and (ii) potential energy, employment and environmental problems associated with that industry.

(2)   If so, to allay any fears that the Government might wish to stifle responsible public debate on the issue by withholding all the relevant information, will the Minister reverse the decision given in the answer to question No. 5873 (Hansard, 29 April 1 980, pages 2401-2) and answer that question in detail.

Mr Anthony - The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(I)   The Government is committed to the economic development of Australia's natural resources. In the case of the aluminium industry, 1 million tonnes of aluminium smelting capacity requiring some S3 billion of investment is planned for the next few years. The importance of these investments to the development of the Australian economy can not be overstated.

(2)   As I indicated in my reply to question No. 5873, the material required to provide a detailed reply covering all the matters raised in that question is not readily available and the diversion of resources needed to provide the answer sought is not warranted. Not only is information of this type not readily available for any industry in Australia, much of it would of necessity be conjectural.

The key point is that the Government has in place a range of economic, social and environmental policies to ensure that while private enterprise development is encouraged, it takes place in a manner consistent with the national interest.

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