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Friday, 29 March 1946

Mr CHIFLEY - I am familiar with the details of the company's proposal because it has been the subject of discussion between myself and the Treasurer of New South Wales. The company's original plan was to engage in the production of certain raw materials for the manufacture of rayon and other synthetic fibres, and to establish a factory for this purpose at Tomago. I had a number of discussions with Mr. William's and Mr. Hamilton Moore, who are respectively the British and Australian representatives of Courtauld and Company. The company asked for certain undertakings regarding the protection of their products in the event of its expending a large sum of money, said to be £5,000,000, in establishing the factory here.. I informed them that the matter of protection would have to be referred to the Tariff Board; the Government could not give an undertaking, as the board was the authority to deal with it. The representatives also made a request that a bridge which, I think, would carry a railway, should be built over the Hunter River. That project was fairly expensive, and as the work appeared to come within the ambit of the responsibility of the government of New South Wales, I personally discussed with the Premier, Mr. McKell, the company's submission. The representatives also applied to the Treasury for approval to purchase a fairly extensive area at Tomago as the factory site, and the necessary arrangements were made through the Treasury for the transference of the property to Courtauld and Company. Another request was that certain air strips, which were under the supervision of the Department of Air or Department of Civil Aviation, should be abandoned, because the company proposed to erect very tall chimney stacks in the locality. I discussed that proposal with the Minister for Air, and he finally arranged either to abandon the strips or to relinquish occupancy of them. The next request related to the supply of water. I understand that the sands at Tomago provide a supplementary supply for the Hunter River Water Board.

Mr JAMES - That supply is inexhaustible..

Mr CHIFLEY - On the technical side, I am not competent to speak. The Tomago sands provide a supplementary supply of water for a number of industries and domestic consumption. Water could be pumped from a large, part of the area which Courtauld and Company acquired with the consent of the Treasury. After the company had raised the matter of water supply, the Hunter River Water Board intimated that it' desired to acquire certain of these areas ; it was anxious that pumping should not take place on a scale that might deplete the supply. I understand that the. whole supply could be depleted if excessive quantities of water were pumped from one particular portion of the area. The company claimed that it could pump the water at a cost of 2d. or 3d. a thousand gallons. I discussed with the Premier the Hunter River Water Board's submission that it should hs permitted to resume those lands, because its proposal would have prevented Courtauld and Company from pumping water from that area. The Premier supported the Hunter River Water Board's contention that these areas should not be allowed to pass from its control. The board offered to supply water to the company at 8d. a thousand gallons; and I understand that Courtauld and Company regarded the charge as excessive. Once more, I had a personal discussion" with the Premier, who informed me that Sd. a thousand gallons was the charge which was made for water supplied to consumers in that particular area, but he was prepared to take up the matter with the board again. He also informed me that the State was prepared to bear the expense of constructing a bridge over the river if the company decided to erect the factory. He added that if the Hunter River Water Board could not Supply water to Courtauld and Company at a cheaper rate, he would consider the payment of a subsidy. I understand that large quantities of water are required by this kind of industry. That was the stage reached in the negotiations recently, and whether any further conversations have since been held betwen the parties, I am not able to say.

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