Lang Hancock, “MINING POLICY A THREAT,”
The Australian, November 1, 1978, p. 6, as a letter to the editor.
Even as late as 1959 the total of government knowledge of Australia’s iron position was so poor that they maintained their crippling iron ore export embargo for almost a decade after I discovered the Hamersley iron field in 1952.
According to the figures published in Government Bulletin No 7 (if correct), Australia would have been importing iron ore by 1965.
Instead of which after the Government: (a) withdrew the export embargo; (b) refrained from placing restrictions on foreign capital or ownership, Australia went from a negative position to being the world’s largest exporter of iron ore.
Some of the world’s largest commercial contracts of any kind were written with Japan in private commercial negotiation, resulting in the boom of the ’60s and an almost embarrassing surplus of foreign exchange, at no cost to the taxpayer whose Government sat back and took 80 per cent off the top in taxation and royalties.
All this was done with the same Japanese that the Connor/Anthony Department of Minerals and Energy says are “picking us off, one by one.”
If capturing 50 per cent of the Japanese market is “picking us off,” then surely we need more of it, not less.
Since Canberra first interfered, stagnation has set in. We have a depreciating currency, a sick foreign exchange position whereby the taxpayer is burdened with borrowing millions to support it, increasing taxation and a record deficit whereas if it was not for government interference seven years ago, we would have had a thriving export trade in uranium today to bolster our exchange.
Before the Government moved in we had 90 per cent of the world’s rutile market; now the Government has virtually killed our beach sands industry as well.
The Fraser/Anthony Government was overwhelmingly elected on the promise that it would put an end to the Whitlam/Connor socialist controls, instead of which it has allowed the bureaucracy to continue to endorse most of them wholeheartedly.
It should realise that unless it rapidly departs from the practices of its predecessor it must inevitably meet the same fate.
Compromise is valueless: the Government must go the whole hog and close down the Connor-created Department of Minerals and Energy before it wrecks our huge coal and iron export industries.
Don’t take my word for it, take Mr Anthony’s when condemning Mr Connor (Hansard 2/6/75) when Rex made a similar proposal. I quote:
Whilst this policy … when pursued to its ultimate extent is not only commercially questionable, but is also headed for ruinous economic circumstances.
The minister is playing a dangerous game because he is forcing the Japanese to look to alternative sources of supply and is straining our relationship.
And again (Hansard 9/7/75):
It is quite clear now why we have had no major mining development projects since this Government has been in office. It is because the Minister for Minerals and Energy has been stymieing all development.
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