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Thursday, 24 May 1973
Page: 2576

Mr FAIRBAIRN (FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In the absence of the Minister for Minerals and Energy I ask the Prime Minister a question. The honourable gentleman will recall that the Minister for Minerals and Energy issued a statement on Tuesday in which he blamed the reason for any delay in the delivery of Gidgealpa gas to Sydney entirely on the New South Wales environmental impact inquiry. Is the Prime Minister aware that the Managing Director of Santos Ltd has written to the Australian Gas Light Co. advising that its ability to maintain the 1 December 1974 target date for the completion of all planned facilities relating to this initial supply to Sydney will begin to slip as it has been necessary to terminate arrangements with the engineering contractors for detailed design and specification? Is he also aware that this action was deemed necessary because the Minister for Minerals and Energy advised Santos Ltd during an interview that, until such time as the situation as to the ownership of the pipeline had been clarified, the consortium should not undertake any major capital investment? Does this not mean that the Minister was not correct when he claimed that only the environmental inquiry was delaying this project?

Mr WHITLAM (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Prime Minister) - I recall that my colleague made a statement on this matter earlier this week. I have not seen any reference to a letter from Santos; still less have I seen a copy of any letter from Santos. It is now clear that the significant delay to the Pipeline Authority is not any environmental inquiry in New South Wales but the proceedings of the honourable member's Party - that section of it - in the Senate.

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