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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2770


Photo of Whitlam, Gough

Whitlam, Gough

Period of Service: 05/12/1972 to 11/11/1975

More information about Whitlam, Gough on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 12/01/1973

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 2770

EMBARGO: 6.00 P. m.
12 January 1973
In its election policy speech, the Government promised to
establish prices justification machinery. The initial and timeconsuming
work necessary to give practical effect to this promise
is being undertaken as a matter of the utmost priority, by my
colleagues the Treasurer and the Attorney-General. The Government
aims to introduce enabling legislation into the Parliament very
early in the coming session.
Pending the establishment of that machinery, it is obviously
impracticable for the Government to conduct any widespread
examination of price increases which may be proposed. There are,
however, some products which are clearly of such basic impor'. LtLce
that increases in their prices ramify widely and can have majoi:
consequences for the whole economy. Steel is a case in poia;..
The Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd., on behalf of it. 501if
and its subsidiary company Australian Iron and Steel Pty. LtK,'. 0
has requested that their case for proposed increases in the drice
of steel should be examined. It has been decided to accede tCo
that request. The Government is pleased that the nation's largest
corporation has not only thus expressed its willingness to
co-operate fully in the achievement of our objectives and policies
in this area, but has taken the initiative to do so. We welcome
this co-operative approach to a problem which affects us all.
Had the prices justification machinery already been in
operatibin,, this request by The Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd.
and Australian Iron and Steel Pty. Ltd. would, of course, have
been dealt with by referral to that body. Since it will be
some time before permanent machinery can be established, we
propose to take action of an interim kind, by means of a special
Inquiry, to examine the proposed increases in the price of steel..
Neither the method of operation of this Inquiry, nor its
conclusions, are to be rcgarded as prejudicing those of the
permanent body in its investigations of price increases, whether
of steel or of any other cormmodity.

Mr. Justice Moore, Acting President of the Commonwealth
Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, has consented to conduc.
an Inquiry into the Companies' proposals. Mr. Justice Moore is
Senior Deputy President of the Comnission to which he was
appointed. in 1959.
The terms of reference of the Inquiry are set out in my
letter to Mr. Justice Moore. The text of my letter is attached.
In deciding to establish this Inquiry, the Government takes
the view that large corporations have responsibilities not only
to their shareholders and to their employees, but to the nation
as a whole. The terms of reference also recognise the economic
reality that continually rising costs present large problems for
industry if it is to remain economically viable and continue to
grow and develop as in the national interest it should.
Nevertheless, the Inquiry is nriot limited to those aspects, and
Mr. Justice Moore has been given wide discretion to conduct it
in such a manner and on such basis as he thinks fit.
Mr. Justice Moore has been asked to report as soon as
practicable, hopefully by about the end of January.

COPY ONLY Prime Minister,
12 January 1971
My dear Judge, I refer to our conversation in which you indicao. cu
that you were willing to conduct an Inquiry on behalf of -th
Australian Government in relation to proposed steel price
increases by The Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. and Australian Iron
and Steel Pty. Ltd. Pending inquiry upon the estabiisliachmen of
permanent prices justification machinery, I appoint you * o : Luiniinto,
and to report to me, as soon as practicable, wheti:;:
steel price increases proposed by The Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd.
and Australian Iron and Steel Pty. Ltd. are justified in whole
or in part. In conducting the Inquiry you are to have regarc.
cost increases incurred by the steel industry soc-.:
of the companies that would not, without the
increases, be recouped by the companies in pricej;
the level of profits earned in the steel industry
of the companies in relation to the funds employc>-l
those sections; and
any other matters chat you consider relevanc.
You are to conduct the Inquiry in such manier
determine. In conducting the Inquiry and furnishing yiu; r,:
you are to take such action, and to make such recommc!; n(..
with respect to the non-publication of particular part;. o:
report, as you deem appropri. ate to prevent damage to tn
legitimate business anterescs of the companies, or of: an, Co.:
company or person, which might ensue from publication of
information received in the course of the Inquiry.
Yours sincerely,
Whitlam -cd.
The Honourable Mr. Justice Moore,
18 Robinson Street,

Transcript 2770