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Thursday, 13 May 1920

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - I very much regret these troubles, but they are inseparable from the circumstances in which we are placed. We have not got coal enough to go round, and therefore we cannot make it go round. The Coal Board consists of practical men who know the requirements of the public as few others can. The Navy is not controlling the distribution of coal, notwithstanding a statement in the newspapers criticising its management.

Mr Tudor - I do not reflect on the Coal Board in any way.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - The members of the Coal Board are business men of the highest typo, the Chairman being the President of the Economy Commission. They are doing their best with a difficult situation. I am inquiring whether steps cannot be taken to entirely divest the Navy Board of all responsibility in this matter. Now that the Commonwealth control of shipping has ended, there seems to be noreason why the Commonwealth should concern itself with the distribution of coal within a State, that being rather the function of the State authorities. My feeling is that we should let tho State Governments look after this, matter.

Mr Tudor - Then the people are likely . to fall between two stools, and get no coalatall.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - It is said that; the people of Victoria are preventedfrom getting coal because of the Commonwealth control of distribution; but I think that when our control has ceased, it will not be any easier to get coal. My view is that, as tho Commonwealth has ceased to control the shipping, and is no longer interested to any extent in procuring coal for transport, the State Governments should assume responsibility for the distribution of coal to their people.

Mr McWilliams - The States have not got ships ; but the Commonwealth has

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