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Monday, 26 November 1973
Page: 3798

Mr FAIRBAIRN (FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to an article in the authoritative London magazine 'The Economist' of 17 November entitled 'Find It and Hope', which claims that the policies on energy announced in Tokyo by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Minerals and Energy will effectively stop exploration for oil in Australia by non-Australian companies? Does he believe that this is the right time to limit the search for oil in Australia to Australian capital, reduced as it is by the withdrawal of various tax concessions and the abolition of the oil search subsidy and farm-in arrangements? Will he look at the suggestion made last week by the honourable member for Adelaide that there be a resumption of foreign investment in exploration ventures under specific guidelines and local equity provisions?

Mr WHITLAM - No readers of The Economist' regard it as authoritative on matters concerning East Asia or South East Asia. It has been consistently wrong on political, diplomatic and military events in the region and at least half wrong in economic events in the region for at least the last decade. I support the efforts which my colleague the Minister for Minerals and Energy is making to Australianisa the search for and development of Australia's natural resources, particularly in the energy field. A month ago a great number of people on the other side of this chamber and outside this House were ridiculing, belittling and seeking to humilitate my colleague. Everybody now applauds his far sighted initiatives on behalf of the Australian people. I think that the question comes very ill from the honourable member because he was one of the Ministers who, over recent years, donated $400m to the search for oil and petrol in this country, mainly to foreign companies and left the Australian people with not one cent of equity to show for that largesse.

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