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Wednesday, 3 June 1942


Mr CURTIN (FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Prime Minister) - At the conference which deliberated last Saturday with respect to the coal-mining industry generally, I said that I would request the managements of the Metropolitan and Millfield-Greta mines to meet the lodge officers in conference, and that I would endeavour to arrange that meeting. Owing to the exigencies of the war situation, I was obliged to leave Canberra for important deliberations. During my absence, I directed the despatch of telegrams in connexion with these two conferences. I am positive, although I have no actual knowledge, that the telegrams were sent, because I have confidence in my staff. I say frankly that I have not given consideration of any description to the problem of coal production since last Saturday evening, other than to direct the despatch of those telegrams. I tell the honorable member, as well as the coal-miners and the country, that I have had to deal with other and, to my mind, much more important responsibilities. I have to answer in the negative, for the reason that I have already given, the question whether I am aware that His Honour Judge Drake-Brookman has made a general award. That reason is responsible also for my lack of knowledge of whether or not the mining officials have said that they cannot and will not recommend the acceptance of this general condition. I am not ignoring the subject of coal; but on some days I have other matters which preoccupy my mind. If I may put the position quitebluntly, my assessment of the duty which the Parliament, as a whole, and I, personally, owe to the coal industry, or to any other matter during the last three days - bearing in mind that I have not given to it the slightest consideration because of other more urgent and vital demands upon my time - is one which, I believe, every man would make if he knew as much as I know.







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