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Tuesday, 21 May 1957

Mr BEALE - I did make a speech on this subject last night at the Tenth Congress of the Institute of Metals. Indeed, if I may say so with becoming modesty, it was a very good speech. The point I then sought to make was that Australia should diversify its industries as much as possible so that it would no longer be dependent on the main staples, such as wool and wheat, as it has been in the past. I pointed out in that connexion the very good contribution which the development of minerals was making. I think the income from minerals 50 years ago was £26,000,000; that figure has now risen to £200,000,000. I am one of those who believe that, in the course of time, mineral production will, in fact, match our wool cheque, and I believe that to be a very good thing in the interests of Australia.

I entirely agree with the suggestion made by the honorable gentleman that governments should do what they can to stimulate mineral production in Australia. Indeed, I point out that my distinguished colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, said in this House some time ago that up to 1950, apart from, I think, Mount Isa, no new minerals had been discovered in Australia since federation, but since 1950 - that is to say, since this Government came into office - there has been an enormous development and discovery of minerals in this country. That is reflected in the rise of income from minerals and metals to this quite high figure of £200,000,000. The work is going on and this Government is doing a great deal. The Bureau of Mineral Resources, under the control of the Minister for National Development, makes an enormous contribution to mineral development in this country. Private enterprise is also doing a great deal. I assure the honorable gentleman that the Government will continue to do all that it can to develop sources of national wealth in order to raise the standard of living in Australia, and bring us a greater degree of security.

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