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Tuesday, 18 September 1973
Page: 1139

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - To which part of the language does the honourable member object? Does he object to the words "young pup' or to the words 'shut up'?

Mr McLeay - Mr Deputy Speaker, I object to your partisan attitude towards us. Do not tell me that the words 'shut up you young pup' are parliamentary language. If I used those words you would have me out neck and crop.

Mr CONNOR - I do not want my time wasted. Let us examine -

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order! The honourable member for Boothby is well aware that all interjections are out of order.

Mr Viner - I rise to order. I do not mind the Minister making statements like that. Abuse, of course, is no argument, as he said. If he wants to go on in that way then the Australian public will know the kind of Minister that Japanese industry leaders and others have to deal with. They will know from the kind of statements he makes how this Minister is wrecking a great industry in Australia.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! There is no point of order.

Mr CONNOR - Let us examine today the profits that are being made by Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Ltd, Mt Isa Mines Ltd and Utah Mining Australia Ltd who are all crying on their way to the bank with record profits. The Opposition would have us believe that there is chaos, that there are troubles and that there are perils in the minerals industry. For the first time there is a Government in office which has even thought fit to create a special ministry to deal with what is the third best source of exports for Australia and will become even greater. So much for the realities. We have heard a jeremiad from the honourable member for Farrer about the appalling condition of the industry. These are the facts and I have the figures here. In the official publication of the Bureau of Census and Statistics, in an article dealing with new capital and expenditure by selected industry groups, the expectation of percentage change from July to December is stated. Here minerals industry leads the expectations of all Australian industries with a 35 per cent total increase anticipated for the next half-year. With respect to expenditure on new capital equipment in the mining industry the increase is 47 per cent and with respect to new buildings and structures it is 22 per cent. This is the alleged crisis of the industry.

Now let us look at the achievements of this Government. For the first time the overseas racketeers cannot write their own tickets. For the first time there is a Government which can play them at their own game; the former Minister never could. He would not know where to start. They put it over him right along the line. He is a man with a cargo cult mentality. As for statistics, the honourable members for Farrer chose to quote ownership only. The official statistics - which when we came to office were 4 years old and are worse now - on ownership and control by foreign interests show that the figure is 62 per cent of the Australian minerals industry. For the first time we are getting world parity prices. For the first time we are ensuring that Australian minerals exports and the contracts for them are denominated in Australian dollars and we have made the Australian dollar a good hard currency. For the first time we are controlling exports. We are ensuring continued progress in the industry and we are doing it efficiently. If there had been any complaints the honourable member for Farrer would have been the first to voice them. We are processing applications as they come in and for the first time we know exactly what is happening in the industry. We have the statistics and will use them in a proper way. The honourable member for Farrer conveniently chose to ignore the fact that the Japanese came to heel in a sensible way in respect of an adjustment in iron ore prices. Of course that would be beneath him and others of his kidney.

Mr Fairbairn - That was before the last revaluation. What will happen now?

Mr CONNOR - This is a unilateral one, as the honourable member well knows. As for insulting the Japanese, I have a personal invitation from Mr Saito, the former Ambassador to Australia, who said that I would be warmly welcomed and courteously received.

My relations with him have always been excellent. We have revived the Australian Coal Association. For the first time we are following the example of the Japanese with their Ministry of International Trade and Industry. For the first time we are getting organisation within the ranks of the different mineral producers - something that the honourable member for Farrer has never heard of and would not know how to effect if he had. We will honour the uranium contracts that were entered into by the former Government. Australia's uranium resources are world ranking. In future we will use them properly. We will not be trying to build second rate obsolete energy plants at places such as Jervis Bay. We will use the latest technology and build a gas centrifuge. When we export uranium it will be enriched, and we will be getting the proper price for it, not the give away prices which some of the uranium companies want to flog it for on the world market at present.

I deal now with the rackets - and rackets they were and rackets they would still be if the honourable member for Farrer had his way. Under section 77 of the Income Tax Assessment Act we were forking out something like $48m a year. A report will come in from a Senate committee in the near future, and it will be a shocker. With all the wails about exploration, no one has yet contradicted the figures - they cannot - in respect of petroleum exploration. Since the subsidy Act came into operation a total of $850m has been expended and $419- will be refunded to exploration firms.

Mr Fairbairn - That is not correct.

Mr CONNOR - You give the figures. You could not. You have had your chance. Do it. I challenge you. You cannot. As to our energy policy, the hard truth is - and thanks in no small measure are going to the honourable gentleman - that we have precisely 8 years reserves of crude oil and motor spirit from it, and 8 years only. The future in relation to natural gas is that if those who have inherited the largest mineral and oil province in the world, thanks again to the former Minister's foolishness, had their way they would rip and rape it, export it overseas, and to hell with the people of Australia and their interests. There is a world energy crisis, and it is well known.

Mr Fairbairn - Why did the Treasury say that there was not?

Mr CONNOR - You might have friends in the Treasury. I could not care less. The hard facts are obvious. What is the attitude of the President of the United States of America on an energy crisis? What is the position in other parts of the world? What is the position with OPEC- the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, a combination of Arab petroleum exporting countries, which is holding the world to ransom? Today who is more concerned than Japan about the future availability of energy reserves? We are going there to reassure the Japanese that, as good customers and as good trading partners, we will do our best to help them through in their needs.

Mr Viner - Do you intend to allow some exports? That is the only way that you can help them. 'Do you intend to allow that $400m project off the north-west coast?

Mr CONNOR - We will deal with that in a proper way. I will be dealing with the butcher not the butcher's block, on Tuesday of next week when representatives of Burmah Oil Co. from the United Kingdom will be in Canberra to confer with me.

Mr Fairbairn - Do you intend to export natural gas?

Mr CONNOR - Your friends would have. That is the whole trouble. That is the reason for the squawks in the Liberal Party at present. That gas will not be exported until Australia's needs have been met and properly assured. It is the end of an era. It is the end of Liberal's writing their own tickets for their cobbers. It is the end of open invitations to overseas interests to come and rip and rape the best of Australia's mineral resources. For the first time we will be dealing with Japan on a basis of equality. The Liberal Government was so stupid that it was prepared to allow the old tactics of divide and conquer to be used by the Japanese. Instead we will go there on a proper basis, as willing sellers dealing with willing buyers. The Japanese have their problems. The conventional wisdom as to the true position of Japan has been completely incorrect. The Japanese have major problems. They are heavily dependent on our substantial reserves of both minerals and energy. We will help them, after making due provision for our own needs. The future of minerals does not lie with the jibes and diatribe of the honourable member for Farrer; it will be determined in Japan. It will be determined in due course by treaty, a proper treaty that will be in the best interests of Australia. It will redound to the disgrace of a government that it left to be cleaned up the mess that we are in the process of cleaning up. We have been firm, we have been fair and we have been pretty forthright. At times there has been a very real need to speak in frank and forthright terms and, where it is necessary to do so, I will continue to do so. We will have the respect of our trading customers and not worry too much about the diatribes of the Opposition.

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