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Wednesday, 26 June 1946

Mr CHIFLEY - I have not seen the statement by the Government Statistician of New South Wales about coal reserves, but I have no reason to doubt that his figures are- accurate. However. I remind the House that there is an ever-increasing demand for coal for the production of power, light and gas. Even if the miners and owners were to work in the closest co-operation, and if there were no loss of production, it, is apparent, that neither now. nor in the immediate future, could enough coal be obtained from the existing mines, under present methods .of production, to meet this ever-increasing demand. As for what is being done to improve the position, the Minister for Supply and Shipping, in collaboration with the Government of New South Wales has been trying, through the Commonwealth Coal . Commissioner, to develop open-cut mining where equipment can be obtained for the purpose. The provision of equipment for open-cut mining is very difficult. The machinery available in any quantity for the purpose is .only partly efficient, in order to obtain maximum production from open -cut mines it will, therefore, -be necessary to get better machinery. There have been consultations with the Government of New South Wales regarding the control of the coal-mining industry, and legislation dealing with the subject is now being drafted by both State and Commonwealth authorities. If it can bc prepared in time I hope that, the Commonwealth legislation will be brought before this House for the purpose of setting up a new authority which will control coal production and distribution.

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