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Tuesday, 4 December 1973
Page: 4238

Mr KEATING (Blaxland) - Mr Deputy Speaker,I would have preferred to speak after the suspension of the sitting for dinner because I will have only 5 minutes to speak now. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) came in here today with his tongue very much in his cheek and talked about the Government's lack of performance in setting up the tribunal that was mentioned in the previous Government's legislation. What he failed to say was that the Australian Labor Party thought his Government's legislation was not much good, and it still thinks that is so. What the Treasurer (Mr Crean) is doing is just extending this legislation.

Mr Lynch - I made that point very clear in the House. I quoted one of your Ministers to indicate that you are not very worried if you are not doing anything to effect it.

Mr KEATING - You did not say that at all. What the Treasurer is doing is extending the legislation because, more by accident than by design, it has been effective in some ways in discouraging foreign companies from wanting to be scrutinised by an agency of the Federal Government. To that extent it has been somewhat successful. But it is the Government's intention to introduce a much more far-reaching piece of legislation than that which the previous Government introduced a year ago. In fact, the introduction by the previous Government of that legislation a year ago, after 23 years in office, could easily have been described as the most cynical, sham piece of politicking that we have seen in the history of this place. After 23 years of an open-door policy in respect of the inflow of foreign capital into Australia, into all of our industries, on the eve of the election when their electoral socks were sadly sagging, honourable members opposite decided that they would do something about foreign takeovers.

The Labor Party announced its policy in September 1972 and the previous Government cynically brought in a Bill in October 1972, just 2 weeks before the House rose and about 4 weeks before the Federal election. That shows the concern of the previous Government about the extent of foreign capital and foreign control over our industries. All we can say to that is that honourable members opposite were not very concerned until they realised that the issue of economic nationalism was such that their Parties could have been in jeopardy at the election. In a last ditch stand to save themselves they introduced this piece of very inadequate legislation.

Mr Lynch - And you will wait 15 months before you review it. Where is your Bill?

Mr KEATING - As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition knows, the Labor Party has been considering a number of matters connected with this question of foreign capital inflow, not the least of which has been the movements in currency variations since last year and the introduction of a comprehensive national Companies Act which ought to have been a prelude to this sort of legislation. So when that is finally introduced it will give the legislation a much firmer footing. There have been other pieces of legislation and administrative actions such as the imposition of the 25 per cent - it has now been increased to 33J per cent - deposit on the inflow of capital into Australia.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order!As. I did in relation to the previous Bill, this again is a faily narrow measure and it does not lend itself to a full range debate on the matter of foreign takeovers. It merely extends the life of the existing Act. I am just informing the honourable gentleman of that.. I ask him not to pursue much further the course he is pursuing.

Mr KEATING - I disagree with you, Mr Deputy Speaker.

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