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Wednesday, 21 November 1973
Page: 3578

Dr GUN (KINGSTON, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My question, which is directed to the Prime Minister, concerns the reported proposals of the Japanese Government to reduce industrial output in response to the cutback of oil from the Middle East. Could these measures result in an economic recession in Japan? Could a Japanese economic recession be almost as unfavourable for Australia as for Japan itself? Will the Prime Minister initiate an urgent inquiry into the effects of the proposed Japanese economic measures on Australia? Could this inquiry also include discussions with the Japanese Government on a co-ordinated plan to cushion the effects on Australia of the oil embargo to Japan?

Mr WHITLAM - It would probably be true to say that economic developments in Japan would now have a bigger impact on Australia than economic developments in, say, the United States or Britain because Australia and Japan, as the Government of each country recognises, are very important to each other in the economic sense and now in a very great number of other fields as well. According to our information, Japan is receiving reduced supplies of oil as a result of the recent decision by some Middle East countries to reduce production. At present we have insufficient authoritative information on the precise extent of the reduction of imports of oil into Japan. The importance of oil for Japanese industry is reflected in the decision by the Japanese Cabinet on 16 November to introduce an oil conservation program. Twelve industries, including the steel, automobile, shipbuilding and petrochemical industries, have been requested to cut consumption of oil and power by 10 per cent. At this early stage in developments the Australian Government is keeping a close watch on the situation generally and for any developments in Japan which may have implications for Australia.

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