Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 9 November 1938


Mr HOLLOWAY (Melbourne Ports) . - I do not propose to speak on this matter at any length. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford) has expressed the views which I hold, and the explanation of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. McEwen) was 100 per cent, satisfactory to me. I believe that it would be wrong for Western Australia to insist upon the removal of the export embargo. Western Australia is not playing the Australian game on this occasion. Much has been made of this interference with the possible development of the resources of that State. I. have been over a considerable part of the territory within which the deposits lie, and while the deposits are undoubtedly large, they have never been worked by Western Australia. Only now has an attempt been made to scratch the surface, as it were, and the fact that a halt has now been called, regrettable as that may be from the point of view of Western Australia, does not justify the representatives of that State in taking up an anti-Australian attitude. The fact is that everyone in Australia, until quite recently, thought that the iron ore resources of the country were very much larger than they really are. We have been told by visiting experts that our resources are almost unlimited, just as we have been told other things by visiting experts when we should have been much better off to have found things out for ourselves. Now it appears that every time a fresh investigation is made, the extent of our resources shrinks. It is well known that all over the world to-day the better grades of iron ores have been given a scarcity value. One of the principal reasons why Spain has been torn asunder by civil war is that in that country there happens to be the kind of iron ore deposits that everybody wants. Of course, there are iron ore deposits in almost every country, but there is not much that is of great commercial value. Recently, we were told by Great Britain that we can no longer depend upon it for the implements necessary for peace or war, but the authorities in Great Britain are willing to co-operate with us in the establishment of industries in Australia to supply om needs. This is surely the time, of all others, when we should take steps to conserve our supplies of essential raw materials.

I am opposed to the proposal of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) to disallow these regulations, and I support the amendment of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde). We would have frankly opposed the lifting of the embargo, but we have put forward this amendment because wo believe that the interests of Western Australia, and of Australia generally, will be best served by the development of our own iron and steel industries, rather than by the export of our iron ore to other countries. For years past I have been listening to honorable members from Western Australia condemning the exploitation of the consumers by the monopoly which controls the manufacture of iron and steel products in Australia. Over and over again, I have heard the honorable member for Swan complain of the high price of galvanized iron. Very shortly we shall be needing large quantities of steel rails; we shall be needing iron and steel for the construction of locomotives, aeroplanes and automobiles. We are only on the threshold of industrial development. Why should not Western Australia have such an iron and steel industry? I remember when a previous Commonwealth government made it possible to exploit the low-grade ores, at Wiluna in Western Australia, and what a boon such aid was to the people of that State. I cannot visualize a better method of using the free credits obtainable through the Commonwealth Bank than in the provision of funds for the establishment of the iron and steel industry in Western Australia and in other places. It is essential that we should utilize these raw materials for the development of our own iron and steel trades. Every ounce of iron ore which can bc economically mined will be needed for the production of raw materials for Australian industries. Honorable members may recall that construction work on the Sydney Harbour Bridge was delayed for some time owing to a shortage of Steel, and it is well known that the scarcity of steel girders is retarding the building boom in all States. Yet some people are inclined to encourage the export of Australian iron ore.

My principal reason for taking part in this debate was to protest against the regrettable note sounded by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), who seemed to imply that there was something underhand about the method in which the more recent reports on Australian iron ore reserves were furnished to the Commonwealth. Possibly I misunderstood the honorable member for Swan, but clearly he gave me the impression that he was casting a reflection upon Dr. "Woolnough, the Commonwealth geological adviser. I regret this very much indeed, and I should not he doing my duty if I did not say that not long ago I had the pleasure, not of working with Dr. Woolnough but of accompanying him through Central and North Australia. On that occasion he was engaged in making an examination of a ridge 30 miles long at Tennant Creek, where gold had been discovered. The miners, numbering about 150, whose interests were, bound up in that venture, were very concerned about the potential value of their leases, and were waiting for some company or the Government to assist them. They were reluctant to install plants, which would cost probably .£100,000 or £1.50,000, pending a report from some recognized expert. Accordingly, Dr. Woolnough was sent to Tennant Creek to examine the area and report to the Government. I saw him carrying out his important duties there under very great difficulties, and doing work which many a younger man would not have cared to face. Later, at Darwin, I met, the Mines Director, and other mining experts at "Waverley, Pine Creek and other parts of Central Australia, all of whom expressed complete satisfaction with the work done by Dr.

Woolnough. 1 think that the Government is very fortunate to have an adviser deservedly enjoying such a high reputation inside and outside Australia. Dr. Woolnough has had 40 years' experience in this country. He is a competent adviser in all matters relating to metals, minerals, oil or other geological features, and knowing him as I do, I resent any suggestion that he would be associated in any way with advice that was not founded upon a thorough investigation of any problem submitted to him.

I do not know whether the honorable member for Swan intended to convey that impression of Dr. Woolnough's report, but I would say that if there was any suggestion of ulterior motives in connexion with the exploitation of the Yampi Sound deposits, it was in the method by which the original company obtained its charter. All the world knows that the promoters did not make clear that it was a purely Japanese concern. Only when those in authority became aware of this fact was action taken to put a stop to foreign exploitation. Then with the assistance of some Australian people and some English people, a company was established in London to work the deposits; but everybody knew that it was still a Japanese firm. I am not concerned whether Japan or any other country gets our raw materials if they are not necessary for Australian industries. I do not believe in favoured nation treatment. I believe that if we have an excess of raw materials they should he made available to all nations on equal terms. I cannot understand any Australian not desiring that raw materials should not bc exported until we are quite sure that our own requirements are met.







Suggest corrections