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Thursday, 10 May 1973
Page: 1954

Mr VINER (STIRLING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Minerals and Energy. I refer to the joint statement made recently by him and the Treasurer about the withdrawal of tax concessions and petroleum subsidies. Has the Minister considered the effects on bona fide Australian companies engaged upon mineral and petroleum exploration of the removal of tax concessions and subsidies for oil explorers? If so, what will the effects be? If he has not considered the matter, will be undertake a study as a matter of urgency?

Does the Minister intend to provide replacement incentives to bona fide Australian companies engaged upon exploration, and incentives for Australians to invest in such companies?

Mr CONNOR (CUNNINGHAM, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Minerals and Energy) - Part of the honourable gentleman's question has already been answered by a statement made in this House by the Treasurer. Petroleum search subsidy payments will continue until 30 June next year. In the meantime the position will be reviewed. The Goverment has been extremely generous and tolerant. If we had applied the letter of the law strictly in respect of nominee companies, in many cases we would be asking for retrospective refunds. Be that as it may, there are other aspects to be considered. I refer the honourable gentleman to the statement which 1 made in this House on 12 April last. A very notable contribution has been made by the Government towards petroleum search and exploration in Australia. From memory the total contribution, direct and indirect, including tax concessions has been $419m out of a total search and exploration expenditure of some $843m. In return for that the Government has received precisely nothing by way of equity.

Mr Viner - I rise to order, Mr Speaker. The Minister has not touched upon mineral explorers. He has mentioned only petroleum explorers.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! There is no substance in the point of order. As I have mentioned repeatedly in the House, it is not the prerogative of the Chair to compel any Minister to answer any question. The Minister may answer a question in the way he thinks befits the question.

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