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Tuesday, 6 September 1983
Page: 433

Mr HOLLIS(10.37) —Less than two weeks ago I made my maiden speech in this chamber, during which I concentrated on the situation of the underground coal mining industry in New South Wales. At 4 o'clock this afternoon I was informed by the management of Clutha Development Pty Ltd that it was sacking another 230 staff, deputies, miners and tradesmen from three mines in the Burragorang Valley. These sackings are a national disgrace. Clutha is wholly owned by the multinational British Petroleum Co. of Australia Ltd. The company calls itself the quiet achiever, but really it is the quiet deceiver. As I said two weeks ago, BP was permitted to contradict all Foreign Investment Review Broad guidelines by taking over 100 per cent of the Burragorang Valley mines- thanks to those who sit opposite.

It is not as if BP were doing badly out of Australia. Indeed, it is doing very well. It has made hundreds of millions of dollars in profits from the oil industry and now it is moving with Western Mining Corporation Ltd into the largest uranium project in the world at Roxby Downs. The growth of the dangerous uranium industry is being financed by the sacking of underground coal miners in New South Wales. If BP had not been permitted to get into uranium it would have been more responsible in its activities in the coal mining industry, which would have protected coal miners' jobs. Australia is now paying the price of the plunder of our resources by big multinationals, who care nothing about the destruction of the local communities in my electorate. They care only about profits.

British Petroleum is not and never has been a coal company. Its expertise is in oil and other fields. It has mismanaged the coal on the southern fields. It did not have marketing contacts. It lost out in negotiations though ineptitude when there was a contracting market. The workers in the valley have given away everything. They took cuts in their wages and worked shorter hours. They did this to save their jobs. Let this be a warning to other workers who are talked into giving up hard won conditions. It will not save their jobs. BP has blamed everyone but itself. It blamed the workers, the unions, the delays at Port Kembla, and the transportation policy of the New South Wales Government. Not once did it mention its lack of experience in coal and its poor mangement. Now Australia has to pay. We must stop this plunder of the underground coal mining industry. Australia must have a national energy policy. We must get the foreign multinationals out of our energy industries. What happened today in the Burragorang Valley should not have been permitted to happen, and it must not happen elsewhere in our energy fields. This can be achieved by more direct government intervention in our vital resource sector.