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Tuesday, 28 September 1971
Page: 1525

Mr WHITLAM - My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. Has his attention been drawn to reports of a document on Australian mineral resources released yesterday by the Japanese Foreign Ministry? Can he confirm that this document asserts that inflated labour costs, undue dependence on foreign capital and possible future gluts of supply are a consequence of haphazard and unrestricted resources development in Australia? Does it draw attention to excessive competition between the States for development capital at any cost and advocate the establishment of a national resources export policy? Has he discussed the document either with his colleagues or with representatives of the Japanese Government and, if so, with what result?

Mr SWARTZ - I did see in one news* paper a report that came from an Australian journalist in Japan who is, I think, the only one who has reported the release of this alleged document. Therefore, having read only one newspaper report dealing with this matter I cannot vouch for its accuracy. However, having seen that report in the Press I have arranged for contact to be made with the Trade Commissioner (Minerals), an officer of my Department in Tokyo, so that he can inquire whether such a document was released and, if so, provide me with some information on it as soon as possible. If there is such a document I will' get a copy of it as quickly as possible.

Mr Whitlam - Two copies?

Mr SWARTZ - If the document is available the honourable gentleman will be able to get copies of it. I certainly hope that if there is such a document I will have it here before long so that I may study the suggestions contained in it. If the statement by the honourable member is based on fact I would like to take this opportunity -to refute a number of contentions included in it, firstly, that there is no basic policy in relation to the development of our natural resources and secondly, that we have not had continuous and extensive discussions with the Ministers, the industry and authorities concerned in Japan. The. Leader of the Opposition will know that . last year and again this year I spent some time in Japan. All of that time was devoted principally to discussions with industry and commerce and authorities. The people who are directly concerned with the development of our natural resources in Australia and the utilisation of them for processing in Japan. In addition we have had almost constant contact with our opposite numbers in the Japanese Ministry and as the Leader of the Opposition knows, trade missions from Japan are constantly visiting Australia and there will in fact be another Japanese economic mission in Australia this week. We will be holding discussions with members of this mission on a variety of matters. Of course, there are a number of matters on which policy has to remain flexible.

We have given to the Japanese Government as clearly as possible an outline of the various guidelines on our policy as they exist at the present time. We have indicated to that Government a number of matters which require further attention. We have also indicated that a number of policies, which we have already pointed out are subject to variation, must be on a flexible basis and that changes can and will occur in the future. A tremendous amount of work has been done in this field and there is still another matter in relation to this which is before the Government for consideration. I merely mention these matters now to indicate that already a lot has been done in this field and that much more remains to be done. As soon as I have had an opportunity to study the document referred to, if it does exist, I will further advise the Leader of the Opposition in relation to this matter.

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