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Thursday, 1 August 1946

Mr SPENDER (Warringah) . - Regardless of the merits of the proposals put forward by the Opposition, the Government has issued an edict against the acceptance of any amendments. Nevertheless, the people should know that this bill contains evidence of careless drafting and that, if passed in its present form, it will grant to the Government a most extensive power to control many industries' in Australia. This definition is an extension of the definition contained in the Coal Production (Wartime) Act of 1944, and slyly confers upon the Government authority over numerous industries. Under this clause, the Government could control gas, or steel, as derivatives of coal. I have referred to tin American scientific encyclopaedia .for the purpose of discovering what are by-products and derivatives of coal. The list contains a large number of items. In the future, coal will probably prove to be one of the most fruitful sources of' different manufactures. At present, certain textiles and fertilizers are made from it. If this bill be passed in its present form, its provisions will extend to a large section of the chemical industry and to many derivatives of coal which I need not now mention. I object strongly to the inclusion in this definition of the words "such other by-products and derivatives of coal as are prescribed ". If, in the future, the Government considers that control should be extended to some things other than coal and coke, it should submit its proposals to the Parliament. I am not prepared, except under protest, to allow the ' Government to extend the operation of the bill over such a vast field as is covered by the by-products and derivatives of coal.

Mr Dedman - Does- the honorable member fear that the definition will cover synthetic rubber?

Mr SPENDER - Synthetic rubber cannot be made commercially from coal. J. understand that the real purpose of the bill is to increase the production of coal. If that be so, its provisions should not he extended to include by-products and derivatives of coal. If any specific reason exists for that extension, the Minister should inform, honorable members. I support the amendment.

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