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Wednesday, 11 August 1920


Mr RILEY (South Sydney) .- I am not sorry that this question has come up for discussion ; indeed, it is time that the House gave an instructionto the Government regarding the supplying of coal. If private owners of coal are' allowed to exploit foreign markets because they can get higher prices for it there than in the home market, it will be our fault. The market to be first supplied is the local market, but thatmarket is being allowed to look after itself while bigger profits can be got abroad. If there iscoal at grass, the Government should put it into use. It is a nice thing to know that nearly 1,000,000 tons of coal are lying unused.


Mr Prowse - You would not suggest an embargo on the export of coal ?


Mr RILEY - I would do anything that might be necessary to supply our people with coal. The coal of Australia belongs to its people, and not to the people of foreign countries. If the coal -owners are so ungenerous as to supply the foreign markets before the local market, I would put an embargo on export, or levy an export tax to make them supply the local market first. How can we encourage our industries if we allow ships to leave Newcastle loaded with coal for foreign parts while there is insufficient coal for local consumption? I cannot understand why a large quantity of coal is allowed to lie at grass, while our factories, for want of coal, are working only half-time. It is difficult to understand who is responsible for this state of affairs, and I trust that definite steps will be taken by the Government to insure that the coal now lying at grass shall be put to some use. The House will, if necessary, give the Government a direction to see that it is used, but no such direction should be required. The coal-miners are doing their best, they are working full-time, and first preference should be given to the coal requirements of the Commonwealth. Local industries should first of all be supplied, and if after that has been done we can build up a big export' trade in coal, so much the better for Australia. At the present time many families are unable to secure sufficient coal for domestic use, and they learn with surprisethat while this is so there are something like 750,000 tons of coal at grass at Newcastle. I trust that the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), having taken up this matter, will continue to keep it before the Government and see to it that this coal is utilized to the best advantage.

Question resolved in the negative.







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