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Tuesday, 22 May 1973
Page: 2466

Mr Garland asked the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:

(1)   Does he have knowledge of the details of all contracts involving the export of minerals.

(2)   If so, what was the estimated value of mineral exports in respect of those contracts written in United States dollars for the year ended 31 December 1972.

(3)   What is the estimated (a) capital investment, (b) number of employees, (c) amount of State royalties and (d) amount of other State revenue involved in respect of those companies whose principal income is from the export of minerals under contracts written in United States dollars.

(4)   As a result of recent changes in currency rates between Australia and other countries, what loss of (a) export income from minerals and (b) State revenue from royalties is anticipated.

(5)   Can he say whether the economic viability of any company is in jeopardy as a result of exchange rate changes; if so, what are the details.

(6)   Are there any townships or localities, largely dependent on companies exporting minerals, which are in jeopardy as a result of recent exchange rate changes.

(7)   Did the Government prior to exchange rate changes have any discussions with the Japanese Government or any other government with a view to alleviating the impact of the lower income to be received by the companies exporting minerals and those dependent on them.

(8)   Did he state recently that he believed certain minerals being exported under contract were being sold too cheaply.

(9)   If so, what are the reasons for the decisions by the Government to, in effect, reduce the price of most minerals being exported by 7.05 per cent and then 11.1 per cent in terms of income received.

Mr Connor - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   No. However, it is one of the requirements of the control recently introduced by the Government on the export of minerals that copies of contracts should be forwarded to my Department and this is still in process.

(2)   See answer to (1) above.

(3)   See answer to (1) above. The additional information sought is not readily available and would require considerable research effort.

(4)   The effect of recent changes in currency rates between Australia and other countries on export income will vary considerably for the various minerals. There will be no loss for those minerals which are sold overseas on an Australian dollar basis; for some minerals the loss will depend on the levels at which the world market prices settle as the market re-establishes itself following the world currency realignments; for others it will depend on the contractual arrangements and in particular whether these arrangements include an appropriate currency protection clause or whether the exporters can renegotiate prices to compensate for the currency changes. I have supported our industry's efforts to renegotiate prices and to this end I discussed the question of revaluation with the Japanese Ambassador in Canberra on 15 February last Following my discussion companies are negotiating with their customers individually.

(5)   A number of companies have made representations to the Government following the changes in exchange rates and their submissions are being considered.

(6)   See answer to (5) above.

(7)   No. It would have been quite improper for the Government to have discussed its exchange rate intentions with other Governments prior to revaluation of the Australian dollar on 23 December 1972.

(8)   I have previously expressed concern at the prices which are being obtained for some mineral exports from Australia in relation to those from other countries. As a result of the export control on minerals the Government will be in a much better position to judge the adequacy of prices received and to ensure that our resources are sold at fair world prices in the future.

(9)   The Government's decision to revalue the Australian dollar on 23 December was taken in the overall national interest.

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