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Wednesday, 8 December 1971
Page: 4272

Mr WHITLAM - 1 ask the Minister for Customs and Excise a question which arises from his answer yesterday to the honourable member for Lang who asked about the disadvantage placed on the Australian company, Ampol Petroleum Ltd, by the Government's indigenous crude oil pricing policy. The Minister by now will have received from Mr W. M. Leonard, D.F.C., the Chairman of Ampol, a telegram which has been released to the Press and which makes it clear that the Minister's reply yesterday was based on false premises. In particular, it appears that the statement that Ampol was no worse off after the introduction

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I think the honourable member's preface is a little long. I ask him to ask his question.

Mr WHITLAM - There are 2 sentences, Mr Speaker. 1 think it is easier to ask a simple question if I make this preface.

Mr SPEAKER - I have been endeavouring to get questions and answers shorter than statements. In the first place, I think the honourable gentleman is giving too much information and, secondly, I think his preface is too long.

Mr WHITLAM - Very well, Mr Speaker, 1 will skip it. I ask the Minister: In the light of the facts revealed by Mr Leonard's telegram will he now give an answer to the honourable member for Lang based on the facts of the situation?

Mr CHIPP (HOTHAM, VICTORIA) (Minister for Customs and Excise) - I am not an expert on the capabilities of this particular company in refining petrol but I do commend it for its excellence in lobbying. I have not personally seen a copy of the telegram. I understand from my departmental head that a copy has been delivered to the Department and that it is a long telegram. I have asked my departmental officers whether there is anything in the telegram which would indicate to them that there was anything incorrect in what I said yesterday in answer to the honourable member for Lang. I have been assured by my Department that everything I said in my answer yesterday is correct. I am interested to have a look at the telegram but, as I say, I have not seen it at this point.

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