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Tuesday, 30 July 1946


Mr MENZIES (Kooyong) (Leader of the Opposition) . - The second reading of this bill was moved some days ago by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman). It is unnecessary to say that the bill as a major measure dealing with a major industry is of first class importance. The whole subject of coal was made the matter of an expert examination by a commission appointed by this Government, and presided over by Mr. Justice Davidson. The report of that commission was presented to the Government some time ago; but, unfortunately, it has not yet been printed. It seems, on the face of it, a rather curious thing that when a commission has sat for some time - running into years, in fact - and has made an expert examination of a problem of this kind, we should be called upon to deal with legislation, obviously designed to be permanent and far-reaching, without having an opportunity to examine closely the report made by that commission. However, the report is not before us, and, therefore, we must do what we can, with such assistance as we can get from the summary of the commissioner's recommendations which was circulated some time ago by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley).

A second preliminary observation is rendered necessary by what the Minister has just said, by leave, and that is that Part IV. of the bill - the part that deals with assuming the control of coal mines by a proposed board - is not to be proceeded with. I should say right away, in case anybody is under the impression that that means that the proposals in the legislation which will enable coal mines to be taken over andcontrolled is now to be abandoned, that what the Minister has just told us is that the broad provisions of Part IV. are not to he proceeded with, but that reliance is to be placed upon the general powers of the board under clause 13. If honorable members will look at clause 13, they will see that the general powers of the board, expressed in very wide terms, include the power " to assume control of the management and operation of any coal mine; to acquire any coal mine and to operate any mine acquired by or vested in it ", and so on. In effect, the elimination of Part IV. so far from narrowing the operation of the bill may, in fact, widen it, by leaving the Government in a position, through the board, to exercise the extremely wide powers conferred by the earlier part.

Having said that, I propose to address myself to what is a really heavy task, namely, that of considering not only what the Minister has said, and what the bill provides, but also what the nature of the problem really is. If honorable members will give careful consideration to the second-reading speech of the Minister, they will, I think, agree with me - J put the matter as shortly and as pithily as possible - that that speech reeks with narrow-minded partisanship concerning a problem which deserves broad national treatment. In the first place, the speech does not accurately state the problem of coal production. In the course of it the Minister said that the likely demand for New South "Wales black coal for 1949-50 is 13,500,000 tons. The whole of his opening remarks were calculated to suggest that, unless some bill of this nature is passed, the task of meeting that demand cannot be accomplished. But the report of the commission on this matter is clear. I shall quote a few words from it.- The commissioner says -

A conservative estimate of the capacity of the operating underground coal mines in New South Wales is 12.750,000 tons per annum working on one shift daily. This output could be doubled by the introduction of a second production shift. Mechanization in pillar working, which is at present prohibited under legislation by rulings of the Minister for Mines, . would substantially increase productive capacity. With the aid of such mechanization and open-cut in in ing, the output could be increased to 14.500,000 tons per annum working only one shift daily.

We see, therefore, that without any suggestion of a second shift, 14,500,000 tons could be produced in New South Wales against an anticipated demand, in 1949-50, of 13,500,000 tons from that State'.

In the second place, the Minister's speech - I think this represents it quite fairly - puts the onus for stoppages upon the owners and their plant, and upon their failure to adopt adequate safety measures. I listened, as other honorable members did, for some clear realization of a basic trouble, but I found primarily the putting of responsibility upon the owners and their plant in the way tha* I have described. The Minister's exact words were--

I remind honorable members that the loss of working days was by no means solely due to strikes. The breakdown of obsolete mining equipment has often been the cause of a temporary closing of mines.

In the light of that statement I took the trouble to obtain some figures. Here are the facts. Of the tonnages lost by various causes - strikes, absenteeism and breakdown of plant - the Minister emphasized breakdowns-


Mr Conelan - I suppose the right honorable gentleman's figures have been supplied by Mr.. Gregory Forster ?


Mr MENZIES - No; they did not come from him, but they are authentic nevertheless. The following statement shows the losses of coal from 1942 to 1945:-

Honorable members will see, therefore, that if we add the losses through strikes and absenteeism we find that in the year 1945, for example, the total loss was more than 3,500,000 tons, whilst the loss through breakdowns in the . same period was. 128,000 tons; yet the Minister went to some pains to suggest that breakdowns were a very important cause of the loss of coal.

Coming to my third comment on the Minister's speech, again I quote his exact words -

It is understandable, if not always equally . excusable, that the industry should be the seat of chronic industrial discontent, fanned as often as not by irresponsible newspapers and by parliamentary spokesmen for the ownership who are prepared to make political capital out of the question.

I should like to remind the honorable gentleman that the former Prime Minister, the late Mr. John Curtin, speaking in this House on the 14th October, 1943, advanced no such view. On the contrary, he said -

As a result of inquiries which I have made, it is the opinion of the Government that the removal of minority malcontents and irresponsibles in the industry will go a long way towards maintaining increased coal production. In the main the irresponsibles comprise youths of military age and men engaged in dual occupations as well as mining - taxi-drivers, starting-price bookmakers, billiard-room proprietors, dog trainers and the like, ,/.--- men have engaged as miners in order to obtain protection. Generally, they either readily agree to strike, sometimes themselves openly addressing the men or making the first move from the mine, thus bringing on a general exodus because of the miners' traditional policy of " one out, all out ".

The malcontents and irresponsible!? are indicated by bad attendance records, lt is the opinion of the Government- that they should be weeded out of the industry. They have a chronic record of absenteeism and their removal from the industry would leave no reasonable grounds for complaint on the ground of victimization. I am directing that experienced officers make a. thorough investigation at each colliery, with a- view to identifying this element individually and recommending its exclusion from the industry. This action should have the support of federation officers, lodge officers and reputable members of .the rank and file, who have voiced strong antagonism to those irresponsibles.

I need not read any more of Mr. Curtin's speech, although it- continues in the same strain. I have read it merely to compare his analysis of the root causes of trouble in this industry with the entirely partisan and political view advanced by the Minister in his second-reading speech. We have not only the words of the former Prime Minister, hut also those of Mr. Justice Davidson himself, and, I repeat, a judge of the highest standing, appointed by this Government to make .an investigation. Mr. Justice Davidson said -

Practically none of the strikes during the war have been due to impropriety of any kind on the part of the owners or management.

Most of the stoppages have not been based on a genuine grievance while many have not been due to disputes with the owners or management.

Are we to accept the word of the Minister who, after all, knows but little of the problem; or are we to accept the word of the former Prime Minister who, as a good and responsible Labour leader, was profoundly worried about this problem, and that of Mr. Justice Davidson, who has devoted years to a dispassionate examination of the whole problem? My fourth comment on the Minister's speech is in relation to the following words: -

Official reports clearly demonstrate that a large proportion of accidents could often have been prevented by adoption by mine managements of adequate safety measures.

The -Minister made that statement because the whole design of his secondreading speech was to detract attention from the basic principles of orderly and continuous production by those engaged in the industry, and to ' concentrate the attention of the public upon other matters. So he turned to the problem of accidents. In his report, Mr. Jus'.ice Davidson stated -

Prolongation of the time occupied in extraction of pillars increases danger to the workers and the risk of loss of coal and employment.

Records establish without exception that mechanized mining reduces the incidence of accident by a large percentage.

Progress of mechanization has been retarded by (a) industrial action, and (6) legislation and ministerial policy.

The policy enforced by the Minister (Mr. Baddeley) under the statutory powers vesting in him the sole discretion as to the use of mechanical loaders in pillar extraction is causing infinite harm to the industry.

Again I suggest that honorable members and the people of Australia will be much more impressed by that dispassionate statement made after a careful examination, than by the political diatribe to which we were treated on the motion for the second reading of this measure.

I come now to my last comment on the Minister's second-reading speech. He said - _

There was an unwillingness on the part of owners to make available or to seek to finance for private re-organization, modernization and re-equipment.

It will be seen by honorable members that the point of the criticism that the Minister is making is that mechanization would have done a great deal for the industry, but, unfortunately, the mineowners have been reluctant to engage in it. Therefore, it is necessary again to examine the facts. The facts are these: From 1935 to 1945, in New South Wales, which is the State with which this bill deals, coal mechanically filled rose from 13,692 tons to 2,168,000 tons, or an increase from .15 of 1 per cent, of the total, to' 21 per cent, of the total. Over the same period there was an increase of the number of employees in the coalmining industry in New South Wales from 13,337 to 17,420; but in spite of the increase of mechanization shown by these remarkable figures, and in spite of the increase of the number of employees, the output per man shift in New South Wales fell from 3.33 tons a day to 2.9S tons a day, and the average number of .days lost per man per year through strikes rose from 11.7 to 36.2. I invite the very earnest attention of the House to these figures, because they show conclusively that the attempt that has been made here to divert attention from the real heart of the. problem to such matters as mechanization, the accident rate, and so on, is completely overthrown by the most simple examination of the, objective facts. 1 turn now from the Minister's secondreading speech to say something about the bil} itself. It is a curious bill, as no doubt the Minister himself will admit, because it has presented, in the course of its drafting, some unusual and complex difficulties. It is confined in its operation to the State of New South. Wales. That perhaps is not unreasonable, because the whole irony of this coalmining problem in Australia is that the State of New South Wales, which has the finest and most easily worked coal measures in Australia, has the most inglorious' record of industrial stoppages. The bill sets up a joint coal board, joint as between . the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales. It 'has no resemblance whatever to the federal authority which was suggested by Mr. Justice Davidson. As honorable members will recall, Mr. Justice. Davidson devoted a considerable amount of attention to his recommendations about a federal coal authority and the powers it was to exercise. This proposed board has no relation to it; indeed I can say now, in order to avoid tedious repetition, that it will be difficult indeed to find more than one or two minor details in this bill which have any relation to the recommendations contained in Mr. Justice Davidson's report. The proposed joint coal board is to exercise powers set out for the most part in sub-cla-use 3 of clause 13, which are not unlike the powers of the Commonwealth Coal Commissioner as prescribed in the Coal Production .(War-time) Act- 1944. I hope that that act is not entirely forgotten, as it was presented to this House as a measure in respect of which the Government had high hopes. It was heralded, as this bill has been heralded, as an attempt to bring order out of chaos and to establish a code of discipline in the coal - mining industry. Its results are to be seen, notwithstanding the valiant efforts of the Commonwealth Coal Commissioner, in the steady retrogression of the coal position in Australia over the last two years. ' The proposed new board, which is the lineal successor of the Commonwealth Coal Commissioner, is to be given very wide powers of what may be described, as socialization. Under clause 13 the board may assume control of the management and operation of any coal mine.; it may acquire and operate any coal mine; it may establish coal mines on its own account ;; it may terminate, suspend or vary contracts re1 la ting to coal; it may, in fact; suspend or exclude anybody from employment in the" coal industry. I have selected five of its widest powers, and they delineate the character of the whole proposal. Here is a board which may at its discretion, and subject to certain .political directions to which I shall refer .later, acquire, operate and manage coal mines., and generally handle the coal industry. Either that proposal means nationalization of certain coal mines or it does not. If it does not - if the intention is that the coal mines may continue to be owned by their present owners- then the bill still means an interference with management without any real responsibility on the part of the interferer. If the board is to give directions to owners .and managers- of - coal mines, if it is able- to intervene in the ordinary discipline of employees but of itself has no responsibility as an owner, we still have the worst kind of interference. If, on the other hand, the proposal means the nationalization of certain coal mines, then again it comes up against these words used in this House on the 31st August, 1944, by the late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin -

The only justification for the exercise of control, surely, must be .that control would result in greater production. I- venture to say, however, that the men who go on strike under the present management of a mine would go on strike under any other kind of management. Therefore, 'strikes must be stamped out.

I say to the union that it will be destroyed if it cannot exercise discipline over its members, and I accept also as logical the fact that the Government will be destroyed unless it also can enforce discipline.

Those were sound words and they are a complete answer to the idea that some form of public ownership will produce more coal. I had proposed to say something in detail about clauses 22 and 25 because each of them raises an important principle. I am relieved from the obligation of saying as much about them as [ would have said because of the announcement 'made by the Minister ; but as the powers provided in them are included in earlier provisions of the bill, it is still necessary to say a little. Clause 22 provides that the owner of a controlled mine is to pay ' all wages, salaries and expenses ; that is to say, he is to pay the piper but he is not to call the tune. He has the privilege of paying, but he loses the privilege of controlling the operation of his own mine. Clause 23 emphasizes that by providing that the employees who are to be paid by the mine-owner are to work in accordance with the directions, not of the owner, but of the board. What are optimistically described as drastic powers of discipline are also introduced. Clause 25 provides that it is to be a condition of employment of any person in or about a controlled mine that if he wilfully disobeys lawful orders or fails without good, excuse to attend for work or perform his duties when required to do so "there shall be' deducted from any pay due or to become due to that person an amount in accordance with the prescribed scale ". When I read the bill and saw those words I realized that they were vaguely familiar and I checked up and found that they were, almost exactly the same as the words contained in section 27 of the Coal Production (War-time) Act 1944. Under that act the Coalcliff colliery and three other collieries were from time to time "controlled " by the Coal Commissioner.' This morning I asked were any deductions made in the case of any of those controlled mines for disobedience or absenteeism- because, as anybody who has read the Davidson report knows, there was an abundance of absenteeism in the controlled mines. The answer was " Yes, £800 7s." I asked if any such deductions were remitted under section 25 of the act to which . the reply was, " Yes, £289 10s.". So that, on net balance, enforcement under the spectacular code introduced at that time amounted over a period of two years to a total net deduction of approximately £500. The truth is that no code of discipline matters anything unless it be enforced - indeed it is dangerous unless it is enforced- and the last thing this Government will do will be to enforce discipline. Indeed the Minister's second-reading speech, as I have indicated before, hardly admits the existence of a problem of discipline among the coal-miners. The Minister's speech and the whole scheme appear to concentrate upon owners and managers who for the most part - and let it be said in their favour - have been honorably acquitted ' by Mr. Justice Davidson. The bill provides that the coal board is to develop mechanization, and technical efficiency. My mind went back .to the fact that nearly three years ago the then. Prime Minister, .in announcing government policy on this matter, said that mechanization of mines was to be proceeded with as rapidly as the procurement of equipment would permit. There does not appear to have been very much done in three years, and what was done before the war, mostly in the teeth of opposition from the federation, did not result in greater output of coal because it was more than countered by the rising level of absenteeism and unwillingness to work instanced by strikes. Then I noticed that there is another provision in the bill about workers' compensation, and here, again, the Minister, in introducing the bill, was very critical of the coal-owners ; yet Mr. Justice Davidson said this - and he gave his reasons; it was not a kerbstone opinion, but the result of years of observation -

The extent of liability for workers' compensation is increased by abuses amounting to trickery which have developed.

In Part III. of the bill, and in particular in clause 13, enormous power is given to the board, but if honorable members will turn to clause 17 they will find that, although those powers are enormous, and the board appears to be put in a position of authority, clause 17 authorizes the most devastating political interference in the work of the hoard. Let me read the actual words of clause 17 - (I.) The Board shall, as and when required by the Prime Minister or the Premier of the State furnish reports to the Prime Minister and to the Premier with respect to the policy it is pursuing or proposes to pursue in the discharge of its powers and functions and, in particular, with respect to programmes of proposed re-organization, acquisition or development .involving substantial outlay . of capital, and with respect to proposals affected by and affecting matters of national policy, including defence, full employment and price stabilization. (2.) The Prime Minister may, in agreement with the Premier of the State, issue directions to the Board on matters of policy and it is to be the duty of the Board to observe and carry out any direction so given.


Mr James - Hear, hear!


Mr MENZIES - The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) may believe that the coal-mining industry will be competently run by a board subject to direction by the political head of the Commonwealth Government, acting in conjunction with the political head of the Government of New South Wales, but very few people in Australia will believe it, and it is the people of Australia who are most closely interested in this problem.

The bill proposes to establish a Coal Industry Tribunal. I asked the Minister when he was making his second-reading speech in what respect the proposed arrangement would differ from the existing set-up, but he was not at that time able to inform me. So far as I can judge from a comparison of the bill with existing legislation, there is one advantage in the new arrangem'ent : the Coal Industry Tribunal is to have the qualifications of an Arbitration Court judge. It does not mean that an Arbitration Court judge shall be appointed; but the tribunal is to .have the same technical qualifications, namely, a legal man is to be appointed, presumably so that there will be impartiality in its decisions, and in order to get away from the appointment of a partisan. However, notwithstanding that step in the right direction, the proposal generally has two great disadvantages. The first is that, so far as I can see, it completely severs industrial arbitration in the coal industry from the Arbitration Court itself. It is unsound to whittle away the authority of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in this way, and to pave the way for such differential treatment of the coal industry as to encourage militant coal-miners to regard themselves as a race apart. It is unsound thus to' make a serious difference between coal-mining and other industries, and particularly between coalmining and other forms of mining. Here is a dangerous severance, a dangerous element .of separatism, in the treatment of the coal industry on the industrial side.

The second great disadvantage is this : the authority of the coal tribunal is seriously diminished by a provision in the bill for the creation of local coal authorities and conciliation committees which, in practice, will be presided over by lodge officers, who will be members of the miners' federation, a practice which was very severely commented upon in the report of the board of inquiry. It does not require argument to make it clear that it is not reasonable to' expect even-handed justice from a body presided over by an officer of the local mining lodge, however honest he may be, and the judge says in his report that they have been honest. We cannot expect to take such a man out of a position of partisanship as an official of a union, and expect him to deal out even-handed, dispassionate justice as between the very union of which he was but yesterday an officer, and the mineowners. In short, a bill which has been hailed as something drastic and revolutionary contains nothing new except a surrender to the militants on the subject of public ownership and special arbitration, and even surrenders of that type cannot be regarded as particularly new by this Government.

I turn now to consider some of the vital facts that surround this problem, facts which have been the subject of examination and report by Mr'. Justice Davidson. The first is the deplorable record, indeed, the wicked record, of New South Wales coal-miners in the matter of absenteeism, from whatever cause. When I say that, let it be understood at once - because every ohe in this House knows that the average coal-miner in New South Wales is a decent enough man - that the high incidence of absenteeism is due to the absurd system of " one out, all out ".

Day after day this results in, 'perhaps, 200 men who are supposed to be responsible persons being led from their work by two or three beardless boys utterly lacking in any sense of responsibility. The result is a shocking record of absenteeism. During the last five years; with something over 17,000 persons employed in the coalmining industry in New South Wales, the average number of days lost per employee was as follows: -

 

When those figures, or figures like them, are quoted, the usual excuse made by Ministers, who never come to the point of these matters, is that the same thing is happening somewhere else or to somebody else. In view of the excuse " it is the same all over the world ", I quote the corresponding figures in Great Britain.


Mr James - Who supplied them?


Mr MENZIES - They are accurate figures,, and if the honorable member finds them wrong, challenges them and establishes others as correct, I shall be glad to examine them. I quote the figures in Great Britain where there are about 700,00.0 persons employed in the coal-mining industry as against 17,000 in New South Wales. In that country the average number of days lost per employee for the same period was : 1941, 48 of one day; 1942, 1.18; 1943, 1.27; 1944, 3.49; 1945, . 9. If honorable members will compare those figures, which are, at the most, a little more than three days and, at the least, under half of a day with the figures in New South Wales running from 13 to 36 days, they will see how hollow is the excuse that this is a world-wide position of affairs and that nothing can be done about it here. That record is not to be explained by questions of safety, health or amenities, because it is quite clear that in all three respects, whatever the defects are - and Mr. Justice Davidson has made about all of them recommendations that ought to be put into operation- the coal-mines of New South Wales are not only the best in Australia but are probably far better than the average in Great Britain. The report of His Honour, as I have just said, contains very useful recommendations on the subjects of health, safety and amenities, which I should have thought might well have been taken up in conjunction with the other more critical sections of his findings, but the report as a whole has been ignored. The outstanding cause of the decline of production and the inadequacy of production is, and the Government knows it, the lack of discipline, and that is a vital problem that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has passed over very lightly. We were accustomed in this House during the last two or three years of the war to having that fact emphatically stated by the then head of the Government, but now it is to be put on one side. The activity of agitators, of destroyers on the coal-fields is to be glossed over, presumably because the general elections are coming, and we are presented with a bill supported by a speech in which the whole onus for the present state of affairs is sought to be put on persons other than the real culprits. I again quote the words of His Honour. He has a claim to speak with authority. After all, no impartial man has devoted a fraction of the time to examination of the coal-mining industry that he has, and he was appointed as a board of inquiry by this Government. Let his words go on record -

Lack of discipline is mainly due to -

(a)   Weak and divided leadership in the miners' federation; (b) Political antagonism between mineworkers who are Communists and those who are opposed to the doctrines and activities of Communists;

(c)   Political intrigue directed towards the weakening and ultimate abolition of the compulsory arbitration system, so that leaders of powerful unions or of groups within them may dictate their own terms to. the industry and even to governments.;

(d)   The success achieved by nearly all strikes in gaining some concessions;

(e)   Inability or reluctance of the Government to enforce the law against large numbers of individual strikers or absentees ;

(f)   Appeasement on the part of the Government in yielding to improper demands under threats of disruption of the industry; for example, in removing judicial officers at the behest of unions which refuse to accept decisions that are adverse or not entirely in their own favour;


Mr Burke - Does that refer to " government " or " governments " ?


Mr MENZIES - " Government ", singular, and I quite agree that it is a w.-ry singular government. The report proceeds - is) Vigorous opposition by the federation to the dismissal of an employee by the management of. the' mines for any reason whatever.

Those words are to he pondered over. They constitute a damning indictment, and, when Mr. Justice Davidson's report is able to obtain full currency in this country, those words will have marked effect upon public opinion. There is- no reason whatever why, .with proper discipline and good sense, the production of coal should not be adequate, but the bill cuts right across the constitution of proper discipline. This very bill .so far from helping discipline sets out to hinder it. It is true that it gives to the board, in clause 13, sub-clause 3, paragraph h, power " to suspend . or exclude from employment in the coal industry, subject' to appeal as prescribed, any superintendent,, manager or other person employed in the industry who acts in a manner prejudicial to the effective working of the industry ". That is a most curious grouping. " Subject to appeal as prescribed " is a beautiful expression. " As prescribed ", of course, in all acts of Parliament, means " as prescribed by regulation ". So that . is a pleasure to come. "What sort of appeal and what sort of undermining of authority we shall have we can only guess. But, in the meantime, the Government in drafting the bill drags in " superintendent, manager or other person " so that the real people responsible shall not feel too lonely. The report of Mr. Justice Davidson happens to have dealt categorically with all three descriptions, and what Mr. Justice Davidson has said about them ought once more to be recorded. He said this, taking first of all, "employees"^

And added to this state of confusion, both the unions and their leaders have uniformly declined to submit to the dismissal of an employee for any reason whatever, even when the safety of men underground came in question and the Coal Mines Regulations Act empowered managers to suspend or dismiss recalcitrant workers. Actually, when reduced to its elements the crux of the situation hinges on this one point, lt is futile to attempt the efficient conduct of an industry if one, or a few, employees are allowed, without penalty, unjustifiably to disrupt the whole course of proceedings.

Discipline is almost non-existent amongst mine-workers who are members of the miners' federation and are within its immediate sphere of influence.

That applies to other employees. "What does he say about superintendents who are honoured with a specific mention in the Government's clause?. He says -

It is apparent to any unbiased investigator that in the knowledge and experience they possess of all phases of colliery management; including mining, engineering, mining practice, the design, development and administration of pits and groups of pits, the superintendents are the most capable and efficient men in the industry.

After having mentioned that the managers hold highly responsible and very difficult positions, Mr. Justice Davidson said -

Owing to industrial unrest, the attitude of some union officials and section of mine workers', the activities of numerous industrial authorities, and the mass of awards and statutory regulations, the effort to fufil efficiently the duties of the office of manager ls in many instances, nerve-wracking and almost intolerable. '. . .

As a class, the managers are a conscientious, hard-working, and efficient body of men. . . .

Practically none of the strikes during the " war has been due to any impropriety of any kind on the part of the owners or management. .

During debates on coal in this House reference has been made more than once, and not least by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), to pillar extraction. From time to time, the honorable member has- explained his objections to the use of scraper-loaders, for example, in pillar extraction. On that matter,* Mr. Justice Davidson reported -

Owing to departmental policy and industrial pressure, pillars have been left standing too long in many of the mines in New South Wales, and much of 'the coal will in all probability be lost. If this coal be not lost, it will be extractable only at very heavy cost. . . .

Mining engineers support with strong evidence claims that under the policy enforced they have been compelled against -their will by departmental directions and industrial pressure to adopt bad mining practices which have resulted in the total loss of large quantities of pillar and top coal.


Mr James - Through their method of extraction.


Mr MENZIES - The honorable member may say what he likes about- it. The- fact is that the method of extraction which has been insisted upon through political pressure is one which the learned judge described as utterly unsound. The same problem is associated with increased mechanization, which is, , by common consent, outside the miners' federation, urgently needed. Mr. Justice Davidson himself considered that increased mechanization was indispensable to the achievement of stability in the industry. He said -

Prolongation of the time occupied in extraction of pillars increased danger to the workers and the risk of loss of coal and employment. Records establish without exception that mechanized, mining reduces the incidence of accident by a large percentage.


Mr James - Did His Honour write that?







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