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Thursday, 18 October 1956

Mr Bryant t asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

Will he consider an amendment of the provisions for postal voting at federal elections to include the right to claim a postal vote if a person, because of religious beliefs, is prevented from voting between the hours of sunrise and sunset on a Saturday?

Mr Fairhall (PATERSON, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Interior) - In response to my invitation for suggestions for consideration during the forthcoming review of the Electoral Act, I have received from a number of sources the request that the rights to claim a postal vote be given to people who, because of their religious affiliations are prevented from attending at polling booths on election day. The suggestion will receive my sympathetic consideration.

Oil from Coal.

Mr Ian Allan n asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -

1.   Is there a declining market for Australian coal and a rapidly increasing demand for oil fuels and industrial chemicals?

2.   If so, will he inquire into the claims made by three scientists of the Sydney University of Technology that new processes make the extraction of oil and chemicals from coal both practicable and economical, and will he make public the results of such an inquiry?

Mr Fairhall - The matter raised by the honorable member is under constant review by my colleague, the Minister for National Development, who has supplied the following answers: -

1.   There is not a declining market for Australian coal. The current position is that there is a steadily rising market for industrial chemicals and for fuel but the share of the fuel market received by coal is declining. The total consumption of coal is steady.

2.   I am informed that the particular scheme outlined by the scientists is to be regarded in its present form as preliminary in character and is intended only to justify in their opinion the allocation of funds to carry out a further investigation of the problem of the use of coal for the production of chemicals and other by-products. The proposals are now being examined by the Joint Coal Board.

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