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Thursday, 21 September 1972
Page: 1105


Senator WEBSTER (VICTORIA) - I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. I refer to matters which I raised in the Senate earlier in this year and again in the earlier part of this week, and to the reported placing by the Australian Gaslight Company of an order with Japanese suppliers for 220,000 tons of gas steel pipe. Can it be accepted that the Minister feels confident that the AGL has given every opportunity to Australian manufacturers to submit a quotation for the supply of this substantial order? Should it be established that at no stage has the principal given a proper specification upon which a quotation could be submitted by the Australian suppliers of steel or the manufacturers of pipe, would the Minister consider it reasonable for the Federal Gov.ernment to intervene in this matter? If it could be established that at no stage the principal invited a quotation from Australian manufacturers for the supply of 34- inch diameter steel pipe, would it be reasonable to expect that the Federal Government would intervene in this matter.


Senator COTTON (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Civil Aviation) - My knowledge of this matter does not allow me to answer with precision many of the queries raised in the honourable senator's question. It appears to be clear that Australian manufacturers had an opportunity to tender. From what I can find out, it is said that they believed their prices would have beer competitive but they do not know the level of the other price. This is what is said. Also, it is said that the quality of steel called for in the pipes was such that they believed they could manufacture it. It would appear that there is still some slight doubt in the minds of the consultants who were advising the purchasing company whether this is the case. The only thing that seems to me to be really precise in this matter is the comment made this morning toy a company public relations spokesman that the Australian pipemaking capacity of this diameter pipe is only about 50 per cent of the potential demand rate. I admit that these things are imprecise. I think that the honourable senator will agree that in a case of this magnitude when he asks whether the Government will intervene, it is a proper matter for the responsible Minister in the other place and the Government to consider. He can be assured by me of my interest and concern.







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