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Wednesday, 26 November 1941

Nearly 1,000 mine workers were idle to-day wl,en stoppages occurred at Aberdare and Aberdare Central collieries. The stoppage at Aberdare Central colliery followed a protest against the statement made by Mr. Abbott, M.H.R. (CP., N.S.W.), that the 2,000 mine workers due for retirement under the miners' pension scheme should bc kept on in view of the shortage of coal and of man-power.

After discussing the position at the pit-head the men decided to go to work. There was a move towards the shaft-head, but the men who had advocated the declaration of a protest stoppage handed in their lamps, indicating they did not intend to go below. As they left the pit, others were compelled to follow.

The Aberdare stoppage followed a dispute over payment for breaking up top coal. A conference has been arranged to deal wilh the dispute.

Recently, the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) described the sit-down strike at the Wallarah colliery, south of Newcastle, as "utterly bad and utterly mad". Referring to the strike at the Aberdare Central colliery I did not suggest in my question that the 2,000 miners should be prevented from retiring next January, but I asked the Minister for Labour and National Service for his opinion with regard to the matter. Apparently, he saw nothing objectionable in my question. Things have come to a pretty pass in this country if a member of the Commonwealth Parliament cannot address a question to a Minister as to his views with respect to the employment or unemployment of miners, owing to the acute shortage of man-power. It seems to me that this is purely a fractious strike, and it is disloyal to the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), who already has enough burdens on his shoulders without more being piled on top of them. It is also treacherous to the war effort of the Commonwealth. I do not blame the Government, nor do I suggest that it may be able to do anything to alter the position ; but it is well known that, in the last war, some of the largest percentages of enlistments were obtained amongst the miners of this country. It is up to the miners themselves to remove from their own trade unions and other organizations those who are responsible for action which is harmful to the Commonwealth in its war effort. The report that I have quoted stated that the majority of the 1,000 men were prepared to go down the mine. The loyal elements in the industry should do nothing that would injure their fellow men among the fighting services overseas. Everybody knows that there is an acute shortage of coal, which is essential in the production of munitions of war, and is also required for our ships. I appeal to the miners, and to the leaders of the trade unions, to stand behind the Government and help it to carry on a maximum war effort. I draw the attention of the House to what has taken place in a purely fractious strike, which was, to repeat the words of the AttorneyGeneral, " utterly bad and utterly mad ".

I bring to the notice of the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) what appears to me to bo an omission from the National Security (War-time Banking) Regulations issued last night. Recently, I submitted a question in the Hou3e with regard to the limitation of the use of the title "bank", and asked the Treasurer whether he would apply such a limitation, but I notice that there is no such provision in the regulations. I referred recently to a certain institution which advertises itself as an industrial bank, and claims that it brings personal banking service to the people of Australia. Apparently, according to its own advertisement, it renders this service at low rates of interest, but if one takes the trouble to work out the rate, it amounts to 26 per cent. I believe that it is the duty of the Government to limit the use of the word " bank", and not allow bodies which are no better than blood-sucking, moneylending institutions to describe themselves as banking establishments.

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