Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 6 August 1946

Sir FREDERICK STEWART (Parramatta) . - This clause is the kernel of the bill. It is true that there are 63 other clauses, but without clause 13, they are worthless. This provision sets out in extenso the functions and responsibilities of the Joint Coal Board. . Earlier, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) referred to all the benevolent features of the clause. If a listener did not have the bill before him he would be inclined to wonder why honorable members have occupied hours in discussing the clause. The honorable member stated that one of the functions of the board would be to introduce modern equipment into coal-mines, and he availed himself of the opportunity to blame the colliery proprietors for the present conditions of labour in the pits. If the honorable gentleman lived nearer to the centre of things in New South Wales, he would know that his statement was unjust. Recently. the use of modern plant, which had been in operation in a south coast mine for some years, had to be discontinued because the miners refused to operate it. Either wittingly or otherwise, the' honorable member for Fremantle acted unjustly in placing the blame for the non-modernization of the industry on the owners. He mentioned also that one of the functions of the board would be to recruit personnel for the industry, and establish sound industrial welfare practices, including the provision of amenities for miners. If those were the only purposes of clause 13, honorable' members would not have discussed them at such length. Unfortunately, the clause deals with other subjects. For example, paragraph g of sub-clause 3 provides that the board shall have authority -

To acquire any coal mine and to operate any mine acquired by or vested in it.

This is not a new power, for it has been in the possession of the Goal Commissioner for a long time, but it has not brought harmony into the industry. Last week .31 mines were idle in New South Wales, and even to-day eight are idleIn spite of this, we are expected to believe that by vesting this power in the new Joint Coal Board we shall revolutionize the industry. The new board is to be given authority to control or acquire mines, and to do the many other things specified in the clause, but the authority already in existence has similar power, the exercise of which has not solved the problems of the industry.' Coalcliff colliery has been under control for a long time, but we know that for many months there has been a serious loss of production in the mine. The mine at Wonthaggi, in Victoria, also has been operated by the State Government at a loss of many thousands of pounds a year for a long while. The losses have cost the taxpayers of Victoria, in the aggregate, about £1,250,000. The State mine at Lithgow, in the electorate of the Prime Minister, has also been the subject of adverse comment. The Prime

Minister himself has said that it tells a sad and sorry story of State control. Surely honorable members must recognize the futility of this method of attempting to solve the problems of the industry. I ask the Minister to explain what will happen if the coal-miners refuse to work under this legislation. I read in to-day's newspapers that the miners are holding a meeting to determine their attitude. What will happen if they decide that they will not abide by the law? We have to recognize that these men have defied the regulations issued by the Government in the past, they have summarily rejected instructions issued to them by the Prime Minister, and they have challenged every move that has been made to control the industry. If the miners of New South. Wales refuse to be guided by this legislation what new appeasement policy does the Commonwealth Government, acting in "collaboration with the New South Wales Labour Government^ intend to adopt? Because I consider that nothing whatever will be gained by the passage of this measure, I oppose it.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 14 - (3.) If the Board after receipt of the report is of opinion that the safety of employees at the coal mine is, or is not, or is or is not likely to be, endangered by all or any of the matters referred tq in sub-section (1.) of this section; it is to have power, by order, to direct the owner of the coal mine and any other person to . do or refrain from doing all such matters or things in relation to the operation of coal-mines as are specified in the order:

Provided that no such order shall derogate from any provisions of the law of the State prescribing requirements to be observed for securing the safety of persons engaged in or about coal-mines.

Suggest corrections