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Wednesday, 11 May 1921

Senator FAIRBAIRN (Victoria) . - I have listened very attentively to the speeches which have been made upon this motion, and certainly the miners upon the west coast of Tasmania have my sincere sympathy. So far as I have been able to gather from the observations of Senator Earle the producers of silver-lead ore complain that a charge of 10 per cent, over and above the cost to the Sulphide Corporation is being made. The honorable senator seemed to indicate that possibly that cost is higher than the actual expenditure.

Senator Earle - The miners also think that the corporation should not hold the ore unless they become responsible for its depreciation in value.

Senator FAIRBAIRN - These two matters Tequire clearing up, and Senator Earle has suggested that the Government should appoint a Royal Commissioner to look into the Sulphide Corporation's accounts. I understand that that corporation have offered to permit an examination of their books by any competent authority.

Senator Earle - I. do not know that.

Senator FAIRBAIRN - The Sulphide Corporation are an honorable company, and will, I am sure, have no objection to the adoption of that course. I would, therefore, suggest that instead' of the cumbrous method advocated by Senator Earle, overtures be made to the Sulphide Corporation to allow two representatives of the men who produce the ore to look into the costs to which the corporation is subjected. That would satisfy the miners as to the actual expenditure that is involved in the treatment of these ores. When metals fall, those interested in their production naturally feel aggrieved. But I am convinced it will be found that the Sulphide Corporation are perfectly willing to have their charges thoroughly inquired into. The extract which Senator Earle read from a statement made by their manager showed that they are willing to meet the producers in ' every way that they can. The adoption of the course which I have outlined would save valuable time and would obviate the necessity for the appointment of a Royal Commission.

The other question raised by Senator Earle relates to the delay which is experienced in the treatment of these ores. To a great extent, this is due to the strikes which have occurred. The question of exchange may also have been a contributing factor. If the Sulphide Corporation cannot get their money from the Old Country, obviously they cannot pay their way here. If these things were clearly explained to the producers, -with whom I sympathize whole-heartedly, and if an opportunity were afforded their representatives to look into the charges which are being made by the Sulphide Corporation, it is manifest that a great deal of both time and money would be saved. ^

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