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Thursday, 21 August 1980
Page: 585

Mr Donald Cameron (FADDEN, QUEENSLAND) - Is the Prime Minister aware that during the parliamentary recess I was on a three-and-a-half week whirlwind overseas trip, my first since 1975? Is the Prime Minister aware that in Norway, which has the advantage of North Sea oil, petrol sells at 60c Australian a litre? Is he aware of what I saw with my very own eyes- that in Greece, Italy, Ireland and the United Kingdom, petrol sells for 70c to 80c Australian a litre? With this sobering experience behind me, I ask: What is the Australian Government doing to protect this so far extremely lucky country from such devastating prices?

Mr MALCOLM FRASER - 1 think the more Australians who follow the example of the honourable gentleman and travel to countries in Europe or visit the United States, taking advantage of the cheap air fares that have been implemented by this Government - so long as they come back before the election - the better. Of course there would not be a Labor seat left in the Parliament if enough people did so, because they would see that this Government has managed the affairs of this nation very well, and particularly so by comparison with what is happening in many other countries.

The honourable gentleman is quite right when he points out that petrol prices in many countries in Europe are approaching 80c a litre, even amongst countries which share in North Sea oil and which are therefore oil producing countries. We have been able to maintain a much lower level of price in this country because of our degree of self-sufficiency, because of the basis of the broad economic policies we have pursued and because we have not been forced on to the spot markets and therefore into paying very high prices in recent periods when oil was in very short supply. It is our intention to maintain the level of independence that Australia has in these areas by pursuing policies that will promote oil search and by pursuing policies that will bring on alternatives, that will encourage the conservation of a scarce resource and that will encourage and promote investments of the kind that we will see at Rundle in Queensland- a great shale oil project- bringing oil on stream, as the objective is, about the time when supplies from Bass Strait will start to run down very dramatically.

I think the honourable gentleman might be interested to know that in some areas of the Australian Labor Party there is a degree of support for our policies, quite apart from the support indicated in Hansard by the honourable member for Blaxland on an earlier occasion. The Tasmanian Minister for Mines, Mr Baldock, said only recently that most of the major exploration areas in Bass Strait between Tasmania and King Island had been taken up. He said that the rise in the price of oil had encouraged mining companies to become more aware of the potential of Bass Strait, as had recent oil and gas discoveries in Victorian waters. He was therefore quite plainly pointing to the fact that this Government's pricing policies are promoting exploration and development. He was pointing to the fact that this is extending our reserves and was pointing to the fact that this is a very essential part of our policy.

Again I urge as many people as possible to visit overseas countries but to come back before voting day. They will then see very plainly the advantages there are in Australia compared with many other places.

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