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Friday, 12 July 1946

Mr JOHNSON (Kalgoorlie) (Minister for the Interior) . - Perhaps 1 shall be permitted to offer the honorable member for the Northern' Territory (Mr. Blain) a word of advice in connexion with the matters pertaining to the Northern Territory about which he spoke. I suggest that better results would be obtained if he were to come to my office and discuss with me the problems of his constituents. I have advised him that! am available at all times to hear representations regarding industry in the Northern Territory. Not only am I available, but 1 am anxious to render such assistance as they deserve from this or any other government. The honorable member mentioned the mica industry. I have already discussed the difficulties of this industry with my colleague the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley), and we have prepared a recommendation on the subject which will be submitted to Cabinet. There are many difficulties associated with the production, grading and export of mica, but the industry is worthy of help. In particular, the men who have gone out to develop the industry deserve consideration. Afterwards, the honorable member rambled on about the use of gold-mining machinery at Tennant Creek for the mining of wolfram. At that time, gold was regarded by the Government as non-essential, and the machinery was used for the production of wolfram because that metal was required in the manufacture of equipment used in the defence of Australia. I remind the honorable member that I represent the electorate of Kalgoorlie, in which 70 per cent, of the gold mined in Australia is produced. During the war, mining machinery was torn out of practically every mine in the Kalgoorlie electorate, and I was one of- the first to go through the electorate appealing to those in the industry to take out the machinery, and also to release the miners, because I realized that the need of the country stood before that of the mining industry. Much of that machinery has not yet been paid for. I can assure the people of the Northern Territory that I am at all times willing to give sympathetic consideration to their problems. Prior to the war, the Northern Territory had a white population of approximately 5,000 people. The present plan of development envisages a . population of 15,000 people. During the war no less than £15,000,000 was expended in ' that area on defence projects. I appeal to the honorable member to give the Government his whole-hearted, support in attempts to convert the results of a great part of that war expenditure into peaceful pursuits. I assure him that every reasonable proposition he brings before the Government will receive the most careful consideration.

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