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Thursday, 15 May 1980
Page: 2269

Senator WALSH - My question is directed to the Minister for National Development and Energy. In view of his having extolled the virtues of import parity pricing, I ask him will the $2 a barrel increase in the price of Saudi Arabian crude announced yesterday, retroactive to 1 April, and the $2 a barrel price increase announced in

February, retroactive to 1 January, be passed on to the price paid at 1 July by Australian refiners of Australian crude? If those price increases are not to be passed on, when will the Minister admit that the Government has suspended until polling day import parity pricing which it asserts must be the cornerstone of any rational energy policy?

Senator CARRICK -Whatever the inaccuarcies of Senator Walsh, one has to admit that he is consistent in his inaccuracies. One has to give him full marks for consistently being wrong. Let me reiterate that the Government will continue to implement its world parity pricing policy.

Senator Walsh

Senator CARRICK -I take it from the keen interest of Senator Walsh that he must be supporting that policy, otherwise he would not be so eager for it to be implemented. Why otherwise would he be so eager?

Senator Walsh - Just tell us when.

Senator CARRICK - With the honourable senator's encouragement, I will tell him when. Those who know what is going on in the discussions of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries at this moment will know, unlike Senator Walsh, that OPEC has adjourned its meeting for a few weeks in order to seek a formula for long-term stabilising of oil prices in the OPEC world area. They are looking to see whether they can get a formula that will do a couple of things, including giving the OPEC countries a weatherproofing against inflation and Saudi Arabia hopes, some real growth in price, however moderate. They are also facing the fact that they are themselves reducing the volume of oil that is coming on stream. In April there was a decline of some two million barrels in the production of oil on stream from the OPEC countries. The Government will be keenly interested to pause for several weeks to find out what the OPEC decision is in June. Taking that into account and taking the Saudi Arabian $2 a barrel price increase into account, the Government will make its decision then.

The Saudi Arabians have been acting to try to steady down the wild up-movements of prices throughout the world. I believe Sheikh Yamani has set a lead in moderation in this regard, and he is to be commended. One can only hope that the OPEC -

Senator Button - If he knows that from you he will be very satisfied!

Senator CARRICK - One thing is certain and that is that he would not regard any commendation from the Labor Party Opposition in the

Senate as commendation. One can thoroughly rely on that.

Senator WALSH - I ask a supplementary question. Will Senator Carrick guarantee that the ruling price for Saudi Arabian crude on 1 July, adjusted for freight and quality, will be the price paid by refiners for Australian crude on 1 July and henceforth? If he will not give that guarantee, will he admit that the Government has suspended import parity pricing until polling day?

Senator CARRICK - First of all, Mr President, that is not a supplementary question at all; it raises an entirely new subject. I also remind you, Mr President, that from the beginning of this session until 1 May, by the technique of socalled supplementary questions, the Australian Labor Party has gained 108 additional questions to the Government's 10. 1 make that quite clear.

Senator Georges - I raise a point of order, Mr President. The Leader of the Government in the Senate is engaging in a grave reflection on your ability to control the House and to rule whether a question is or is not a supplementary one. I and other senators on this side of the House are becoming very sick and tired of the way in which the Leader of the Government in the Senate endeavours to dictate to this House, and particularly to you, the forms that should be followed.

The PRESIDENT - We have a practice in this place, Senator Georges, that supplementary questions are allowed to be asked, but they must be relevant to the original question and seek elucidation.

Senator CARRICK - Having said that that was not a supplementary question, I was at pains to say, and I have been at pains to say repeatedly, that the Government is not bound to 1 July at all, but it has said that it will be flexible in its time program. I am always grateful to the Opposition. It so underlines the validity of the Government's case. I repeat to Senator Walsh that what the Government will be doing is pausing for a few weeks to find out what the OPEC decision is on pricing, reviewing the matter then and making a decision accordingly.

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