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Thursday, 18 October 1973
Page: 2316

Mr SCHOLES (CORIO, VICTORIA) - Is the Prime Minister aware of statements that oil supplies from the Middle East to a number of Western countries will be reduced substantially? Will the Prime Minister inform the House what action the Australian Government intends to take to ensure that Australia's oil supplies are protected from the tremendous pressures for exports which will take place if oil supplies to the U.S.A., Britain and other Western countries are cut off? I ask the Prime Minister whether he can inform the House what Australia's position with regard to future reserves and the utilisation of the same if oil supplies from the Middle East cease.

Mr SPEAKER - The question comes within the portfolio of the Minister for Minerals and Energy.

Mr CONNOR (CUNNINGHAM, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Minerals and Energy) - The Government has appointed and sent abroad an ambassadoratlarge to the Arab countries so that we can preserve the best possible relations with them, particularly in relation to the availability of crude oil supplies. As honourable members are well aware, one-third of the Australian refinery through-put comes from heavy crude imported particularly from the Middle East As I outlined in a speech I made on Tuesday night, we will have our problems. It is for that reason that I included within the Pipline Authority Bill special provision for the retention of all liquids from natural gas. We will use our best endeavours to supplement Australia's oil reserves. As I pointed out to the House on Tuesday night, in particular we also will ensure that natural gas will be used to replace heavy furnace crude wherever possible. We will use the best technical advice that we have. We will conserve and, above all, we will budget for our energy reserves in the terms that I announced to this House some months ago.

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