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Wednesday, 30 August 1972
Page: 518

Senator O'BYRNE (TASMANIA) - I direct a. question to the Attorney-General. In view of the mounting public concern about foreign ownership and control of Australian industries and resources, takeovers and dangerously high foreign capital inflow, can he tell the Senate which of the confusing indications given by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Treasurer and himself can be taken to be the Government's course of action in this vital area? Can he give the Senate any indication as to when this confusion will be cleared away and a real statement of Government policy brought down?

Senator GREENWOOD (VICTORIA) (Attorney-General) - I am sure that we are all gratified to find the interest which members of the Australian Labor Party are taking in having a clear statement as to what is the policy of the Government with regard to this matter. I would suggest only that they might have a look at their own policy to make clear to the Australian public precisely what it is that the ALP suggests. As far as the Government is concerned, any confusion which the honourable senator senses is a confusion in his own mind. I think that the Prime Minister has made the position of the Government perfectly clear. There is a general policy that the approach to foreign investment is one which we exercise with the greatest caution. We believe that as far as possible Australian enterprise and Australian development should be financed from Australian sources. But we recognise that that cannot be always done. The Government has indicated in action it has taken with regard to the MLC Insurance Co., the uranium mining companies and broadcasting and television that in particularly significant areas it has imposed a limit on the amount of overseas ownership. With regard to the whole problem - a problem which has vexed many countries in relation to which, for example, Canada took some 5 years and several reports before she came down with a policy - the Government will proceed on the basis of the closest examination. The Prime Minister has said repeatedly that the Government will make no precise determination until it has received the papers which the Treasurer has assured the Government will be provided and which the Prime Minister has indicated he anticipates receiving very shortly.

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