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Thursday, 7 May 1942


Mr DEDMAN (Corio) (Minister for War Organization of Industry) . - by leave - The Government has decided upon the policy it intends to apply to the goldmining industry in Australia, and I take this opportunity to inform the House and the country so that those concerned may know what lies ahead of them. The Government's decision has not been taken without full inquiry into every aspect of the matter. I was deputed by the Prime Minister to visit Western Australia, and to confer with the Government of that State, the representatives of the mine-owners, the employees in the industry, and any others whose interests would be affected. All the points advanced by the various parties mentioned were fully considered by the Government before a final determination of policy was reached. The paramount consideration, however, must be the most effective use of the nation's man-power in the prosecution of the war. Because of this, I now announce, first, that no protection can be given to the industry from the call-up for military service of men directly or indirectly engaged therein. Exemptions on a very limited scale of key men responsible for maintenance of safety in the mines will continue. Secondly, the industry must be prepared to have withdrawn from it, for service in connexion with allied works projects, a proportion of the men remaining after military requirements havebeen satisfied. Whether this proportion will be large or small depends, first upon the scale on which these projects are developed, and, secondly, upon the extent to which labour can be released from other non-essential activities to meet the requirements. The method of withdrawing these men will be a matter for consultation with the mineowners and the union so as to ensure that as little disturbance as possible is caused to the industry.

I want to pay a special tribute to the attitude adopted by the workers in the industry with whose organization the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is connected. The Australian Workers Union informed me, categorically, that the retention of men in the mines was, for them, a question of secondary importance in the present crisis; that they supported wholeheartedly the Government's proposal to use the man-power in the mines in the way which would most effectively secure the successful prosecution of the war. I hope that the House and the country generally will support the Government's proposals in the same spirit that the workers in the industry have done.

I lay on the table the following paper : -

Ministerial Statement of Policy in relation to the Gold-mining Industry.







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