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Wednesday, 16 April 1980
Page: 1508

Senator CHANEY (Western AustraliaMinister for Aboriginal Affairs and Minister Assisting the Minister for National Development and Energy) - I would like to thank Senator McClelland and the other senators who spoke in support of the Pipeline Construction (Dalton to Canberra) Bill. As 1 have had the occasion to observe the debate on other Bills, it is those Bills which have the unanimous support of the Senate which seem to draw forth the greatest heat and passion. I shall address myself to a couple of the points which have been raised by speakers in the context of this debate, although perhaps not in the sense of matters which are directly relevant to the legislation before the House.

First of all, Senator McClelland expressed concern about the position of Bathurst, Orange and Lithgow and he has pleaded with the Government for support for the extension of laterals which will enable greater use of natural gas in New South Wales. My colleague Senator Baume, who spoke on the Bill, addressed himself to the Government's actions in this area and to the wish of the Government to do that. With respect to those specific places mentioned by Senator McClelland my advice is that the councils of those towns and the Australian Gas Light Co. have not yet made a submission to the Government with respect to laterals, although it is expected that there will be proposals in the near future. The Pipeline Authority is currently working with those councils and with the Australian Gas Light Co. to develop proposals. These are matters which are in hand.

Senator McClellandalso made a number of comments about the pricing of liquefied petroleum gas which, of course, is very relevant to such centres until natural gas is available. He referred to the recent announcements of the Minister for National Development and Energy (Senator Carrick), which I would have thought would have been warmly welcomed by those people who, until natural gas is available, will continue to use LPG for domestic and other purposes. What was announced by Senator Carrick on 8 April involves a reduction in price for all users of LPG. The price of propane and butane has been reduced to a common maximum price of $205 a tonne, which is a reduction of about 20 per cent for propane and about 30 per cent for butane. That new price arrangement, together with the $80 a tonne subsidy, means an effective price for household usage of $ 1 25 a tonne, which is a reduction of $ 127 a tonne on the price level for propane determined by the PJT in January 1980. So very significant adjustments have been made to the price of propane and butane for household usage.

These are matters which are no doubt welcomed by Senator McClelland and all senators who spoke. The subsidy which was originally announced for household usage is to be extended to include usage by non-profit residential types of institutions and schools, but not for general commercial and industrial users who will benefit from the general price reduction to which I referred. There has been a great deal of Government activity in this area to meet, the needs of consumers of LPG and to advance the usage of natural gas to enable LPG to be used for those purposes for which natural gas is not suitable and for which LPG is suitable in common with petroleum.

Senator Walsh,who led for the Opposition, raised a matter about the leasing arrangements which will apply to the line which is to be authorised by this Bill. My advice is that the haulage contract will be negotiated between the Pipeline Authority and the Australian Gas Light Company. The terms and conditions are still to be determined. There has been considerable debate on this measure, which, as all speakers have indicated, has the unanimous support of the Senate. I commend the Bill to the Senate for a speedy passage.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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