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Tuesday, 23 October 1984
Page: 2199


Senator HARRADINE —Does the Minister for Industry and Commerce recall the Senate Select Committee on the Operations of the Mount Lyell Company which consisted of former Senators Wright and Everett and Senator Grimes, Senator Townley, Senator Messner and myself, which recognised that if the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Co. Ltd closed down it would have devastating effects on employment in Queenstown and indeed the whole of the west coast? Is the Minister aware that the Renison Goldfields Consolidated Ltd Mount Lyell operation has lost $4.8m in the past six months and that the company has indicated that, unless substantial assistance is received to change mining operations, there will be a closure as early as the end of next year? What response can the Minister give to this very real problem being experienced by the people of the west coast of Tasmania?


Senator BUTTON —I am sorry, I do not recall any of the precise details of the Senate committee on which Senator Harradine and others sat, but I suppose the important point is the conclusion to which Senator Harradine adverted in his question. We have received no request from the Goldfields company for any particular assistance in respect of the operations of the Mount Lyell mine. Certainly I am unaware of any request having been received; it may have been directed to another Minister, but I do not know of that. If such a request is received we will examine it on its merits. I certainly concur with the implications of the question Senator Harradine raised about the importance of that mine to employment and so on and to the infrastructure on the west coast of Tasmania. I will have the matter examined and try to get the honourable senator a further answer in due course.