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Thursday, 3 October 1974
Page: 1647


Senator CARRICK (NEW SOUTH WALES) -I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister: Is it a further measure of the contempt of the Government for this Parliament and for the Australian people that the Prime Minister has disclosed to a Press conference in the United States of America important and controversial details of his Government's recent talks with the Shah of Iran rather than first reporting those details to this Parliament? Will the Minister, in order to rectify this grave discourtesy, interpose today a statement to the Senate on the nature of those discussions and any decisions reached between the 2 governments? Is it the intention of the Commonwealth Government to allow foreign governments of whatever ideology to invest, whether through the Australian Industry Development Corporation, the Petroleum and Minerals Authority or otherwise, in Australian resources development? Would such investment be exempted from the provisions of the variable deposits ratio? Does this indicate a significant change in the Government's policy regarding foreign investment and multi-nationals? Does the Government support the public statement of Dr Cairns, the Acting Prime Minister, that he has no difficulties at all with multi-nationals and that, in fact, he finds them easier to get on with than other companies?


Senator MURPHY - The honourable senator has asked a number of questions. The first one, which deals with the attitude of the Prime Minister to Parliament, might be disposed of easily. I do not think there is any Prime Minister who has ever taken such a strong attitude as the present Prime Minister towards the informing of Parliament. There has been a remarkable change since the Labor Government has come into power. All sorts of reports, statements and information have been tabled and given to Parliament- a constant stream of them. So much has that been so that I have noticed a couple of instances of requests and demands for information made in the other House which have received the answer that the relevant document had already been tabled in the Parliament.

The Prime Minister has gone to great lengths to inform Parliament and I think one can be assured that he is doing whatever he thinks fit. I do not know the circumstances of his statement overseas It may be that he intended to make a statement when he returned and he may have found it more in the interests of Australia to make the statement then and there. The honourable senator raised other matters. He asked whether the Government will tolerate foreign countries investing in Australia either directly or through intermediaries. Of course, over the years governments have tolerated that. For instance, the British Government, through large corporations and in all sorts of ways, notoriously has enormous investments in Australia. Other governments have also acted through various corporate devices. The honourable senator referred to multi-nationals and so forth. I will refer that part of his question to the Acting Prime Minister. If he wants to add anything to what I have said no doubt he will do so.







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