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Thursday, 20 June 1946


Mr Fadden n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -

1.   Has the Government subsidized unpayable coal-mines?

2.   If so, what are (a) the names of the mines, (b) the State in which each is situated, and (c) the amount of subsidy paid each financial year in respect of each mine to the latest date for which figures are available?

3.   What was the rate of absenteeism in each mine during the relevant period?

4.   How many strikes have occurred at each mine during the relevant periods and what was their duration?


Mr Dedman - The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answers : - 1 and 2. Subsidy payments are made on confidential information under NationalSecurity (Prices) Regulations which preclude divulging of the information sought. For the information of the honorable member, it is pointed out that classification of a mine as " unpayable " would be difficult in the present marked shortage of supplies. Existing ceiling prices entail subsidy payments to most mines, at least of any substantial production. 3 and 4. Answers to questions 3 and 4 are practicable and relevant only if detailed information in connexion with questions 1 and 2 could be made available.


Mr Fadden n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -

1.   When was government control of the Coalcliff colliery undertaken?

2.   What was the loss during each financial year of operation since and what is the accumulated loss to date?

3.   What are the detailed items (together with respective amounts) taken into consideration in arriving at the losses mentioned above? 4.What were (a.) the cost of production and (b) the selling price per ton of coal each yea r ?

5.   What was the rate of absenteeism and how did it compare with all other coal mines throughout Australia?

6.   How many strikes occurred throughout the relevant period? What were their duration, and what was the production loss on each occasion?

7.   What were (a) the total production of coal and (6) the average number of men employed each week during the relevant period?


Mr Dedman - The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answers : -

1.   9th March, 1944.

2.   The Government's plan of price stabilization prevents recoveries, by increases in prices, of rising costs of production. If Coalcliff mine were being managed under conditions similar to those applicable to mines under private control, the accounts would include receipts from subsidies. This factor must be taken into account, therefore, in assessing the accounting figures, which are as follows: - Year ending 31st March, 1945, net loss,. £28,350 9s. 9d.; year ending 31st March, 1946, net loss, £27,652 . 3s. 2d.; accumulated loss to 31st March, 1946, £56,002 12s.11d. His Honour Mr. Justice Davidson, in his recent report on the coalmining industry, concluded that substantial monetary assistance by way of subsidy would have been essential if operations had been continued under non-governmental control.

3.   Ordinary working expenses as per accounts, which can be obtained if desired by the right honorable member. 4. (a) (i) Cost of production for year ending 31st March, 1946, was 27s. 3.42d. per ton; (ii) cost of production ' for year ending 31st March, 1946, was 27s. 3.42d. ton. (b) Selling price per ton of coal each year, 21s. 2.909d. and 22s. 11.35d. The selling price is governed by the stabilization plan.

5.   For twelve months ending December, 1944, production losses from absenteeism (all causes) was 22 per cent. For twelve months ending December, 1945, production losses from absenteeism (all causes). 14 per cent. For Southern District - For twelve months ending December, 1944, production losses ' from absenteeism (all causes), 14 per cent. For twelve months. ending December, 1945, production losses from absenteeism (all causes), 17 per cent. It is inappropriate to compare a colliery in any one district with collieries in other districts or other States; that is why the comparison is made with the Southern district in which Coalcliff is located.

6.   For the nine months of control during 1944, there were three one-day strikes. The estimated production losses were 390 tons, 578 tons, and 733 tons respectively, a total of 1,701 tons. During the year ended 31st December, 1945, there were ten strikes. The duration and estimated production loss in respect to each strike were as follows: -

 

Theten-days stoppage was a general strike of New South Wales coal mines in December, 1945. 7. (a) For the financial year ending 31st March, 1945, 165,111 tons of saleable coal were produced. For the financial year ending 31st March, 1946, 132,189 tons of saleable coal were produced, being a total of 297,300 tons for those two financial periods. (b) For the period 1944-45, there were 340 employees at the colliery exclusive of 23 on permanent compensation. For the period 1945-46, there were 342 employees at the colliery exclusive of 39 on permanent compensation, and during the last three months 337 employees exclusive of 51. on permanent compensation.


Mr Chifley y- On the 26th March, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) drew attention to references in the report by Mr. Justice Davidson on conditions existing in Queensland coal mines, and asked the following question : -

Will the Prime Minister approach the Queensland Minister of Mines with a view to ensuring that the existing archaic and highly dangerous conditions will be remedied as quickly as possible, so that danger to men may be avoided and coal production substantially increased, thus facilitating the speedy rehabilitation of the men of the fighting services ?

In reply I inform the honorable member that the matters referred to were taken up personally by the chairman and members of the Board of Inquiry immediately on their return to Brisbane after their investigations in August, 1945, when the whole of the facts were placed before the Minister for Mines, Queensland, Mr. Gair and the Under Secretary for Mines, Mr. -Staines. Matters of safety and health, such as those raised, come solely within the jurisdiction of the State . Mines Department within the meaning of their Coal Mines Regulation Act and the Commonwealth has no power to intervene in such matters, but I have no doubt that the State authorities will give full consideration to the findings of the Davidson Board of Inquiry in respect of matters affecting Queensland.







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