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Thursday, 18 February 1932

Mr HOLLOWAY (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) . - I support the request made by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). It is reasonable to suggest that (he Government should consider the advisability of assisting the Government of New South Wales to develop some new phases of theindustry, in order to repatriate some of the miners who cannot be absorbed at the present time. The Attorney-General knows well that some of the statements that he has made to-night are considerably out of date. He has referred to exceptional instances which might have been pointed out when the coal-mining industry was in a much more flourishing position than it is to-day.

Mr Latham - I refer to 1928 and 1929. The conditions were bad then.

Mr HOLLOWAY (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) -The conditions that operated at that time are not experienced to-day. The Attorney-General was not justified in quoting exceptional cases that have come under notice, since the honorable member for Hunter is appealing for assistance to an industry that is now almost out of business. The Attorney-General knows, perhaps, better than any other member, that the latest international statistics show that the greatest coal-fields in the world, where the most efficient methods are adopted, and where the lowest wages are paid, cannot keep their plants going at full capacity. All coal-fields are experiencing the same difficulty as that through which the New South Wales industry is passing,and a general attempt is being made to repatriate some of the excess miners by absorbing them into other branches of industry. That is why the present appeal is being made to the Government.

I remember the report of another commission, which was brought into being by the Bruce-Page Government. An extensive inquiry was made by the Development and Migration Commission three or four years ago. Messrs. Gepp, Gunn and others recommended that we should bring several thousand Welsh miners to Australia, because of the impossibility of British mining companies employing all the miners in Great Britain. Twelve months afterwards, another review of the industry took place, and the same officials then recommended that the Government should try to absorb several thousand coal miners in the Newcastle district in other industries. The Attorney-General appears to have forgotten those recommendations.

The further statement of the honorable gentleman that £10,000,000 has been expended at Yallourn to develop brown coal in competition with black coal was equally reckless and unfounded. The largest part of that expenditure was for the erection of a modern plant for the generation of electrical power, heat and light, and their distribution throughout Victoria.

Mr Hutchin - Because of the high price of coal from New South Wales.

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