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Tuesday, 4 May 1971

Senator COTTON (New South WalesMinister for Civil Aviation) - Senator Douglas McClelland directed his remarks to 2 subjects. The first was in relation to the appropriation for export promotion by the Department of Trade and Industry, which contains no request for an additional sum. The second was in relation to publicity by the Department of Trade and Industry. Again there was no request for an increased sum. He made various comments on what came out of a report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts which stated that this Department used 2 advertising agencies, that they were appointed by the Executive Council and that the basis of appointment should be reviewed. That report was presented to Parliament on 17th September 1969. The honourable senator said that the Committee did not comment on whether the agencies were Australian owned or partially Australian owned. On the information that was available to me then and on the information that is currently available to me now, unless my advisers from the Department of Trade and Industry have some further information, this report was and is still under review and that any action, when taken, would be advised to the Treasury. As at the time of reporting and at the moment there was and is still no Treasury minute dealing with the matter that has as yet been tabled. I am unable to take the matter any further at the moment, without referring it back to the Department of Trade and Industry, unless some information has been provided since the suspension of the sitting. That is substantially the situation at present. In deference to the honourable senator, I thought it would be proper for me in that instance to seek for him and the Senate some further information about this matter. I think that is all I could really be asked to do.

The honourable senator also raised an interesting point about the possibility of increased trade between Australia and South America. His interest in this has been stimulated by his recent visit to that part of the world. For a period the minds of certain people in the Department have been occupied with our prospects of increased trade. He asked his question in relation to the estimates of the Department of Shipping and Transport. I take it that the Department of Trade and Industry would have an interest in the matter. It is not easy to find a line item in either appropriation to cover the subject. Nonetheless, I think I will direct the inquiry to the Department of Trade and Industry. I shall ask that Department whether it believes that the Trade opportunities are such that they could be stimulated and, if so, what action will be taken with the department of Shipping and Transport towards providing a more direct Australian-owned service. That is the general pattern of the informa tion that Senator Douglas McClelland sought. I would be very happy to cooperate with him in trying to get more information from both departments. I am sure that he will appreciate that a Minister representing another Minister would not be in a position to give a definite statement or to commit the other Minister on this matter, but the matter is one of interest.

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