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Wednesday, 5 October 1927

Senator GRAHAM (Western Australia) . - Notwithstanding surplus after surplus, nothing has been done to relieve the people who have made Australia a fit place for us to live in. In my opinion some of the surplus revenue should have been given towards the relief of old age pensioners.

Although two commissions which have inquired into the disabilities of West Australia, and more particularly the position of the mining industry of the State, have tendered their reports, the Government has done nothing to give assistance to that industry. If a bonus on gold were given it would mean an influx of population and the further development of an industy which has made West Australia the wonderful State it is. A number of the mines would be working, and the revenue from mining, upon which Western Australia largely depends, would consequently increase. In effect, the Commonwealth Government has taken approximately £3,000,000 from Western Australia owing to the higher price it received for the gold it commandeered during the war period, and for which the State has received nothing in return. Although the Western Australian Disabilities Royal Commission recommended that assistance should be given to the mining industry, nothing has been done. The Development and Migration Commission also conducted an investigation into the Western Australian mining industry, and recommended that three or four companies operating adjacent to one another should amalgamate, and that the Commonwealth Government should advance £300,000 to enable a newly-formed company to purchase modern machinery. The commission further recommended that the suggested advance of £300,000 should not be paid until the company had made every possible endeavour to raise the money. Notwithstanding these definite recommendations made by two responsible bodies, nothing has been done. Many other industries have received financial assistance in the form of bounties; but the goldmining industry in Western Aus- tralia which has been severely handicapped owing to the action of the Government during the war period, has been entirely neglected. Commissions and boards are appointed at considerable cost, but their recommendations are ignored. It would be better if the Government definitely told the people that it did not intend to do anything than for it to say again and again ° that the recommendations are receiving consideration. Even if the recommendation of the Development and Migration Commission that three of the companies should amalgamate were adopted, it is questionable if a larger number of men would be employed; but if £300,000 were spent in purchasing modern equipment, possibly large quantities of low-grade ore could be profitably marketed. At present the companies are raising only the highergrade ores in order to . keep the mines going ; but that cannot be continued indefinitely. The payment of a comparatively small sum would enable many of the shows, which, prior to 1914, were working profitably to successfully market their low-grade ores.

Senator Ogden - Why do not the companies endeavour to do something?

Senator GRAHAM - They have been doing all that is possible, and the Western Australian Government has assisted one big company to the extent of £50,000. Senator Verran, who has had many years' experience in the mining industry, will admit that such an amount is barely sufficient to keep a mine going for a couple of months. The Government is willing to assist other industries, but has declined to help the mining industry.

Senator Verran - What is the assay value of the ore?

Senator GRAHAM - Between 6 and 7 dwt. Increased mining activities in Western Australia would result in a larger population, an increase in trade, a higher revenue, and general prosperity.

Senator Thompson - The cost of production should be reduced.

Senator GRAHAM - Does Senator Thompson suggest a reduction in wages? With financial assistance, which the companies would not want every year, and which would be repaid, many of them would be able to meet their obligations. Such assistance would be an incentive to mining men to work many of the shows on the eastern side of the gold-fields belt ; the shafts have aleady been sunk, and the miners would be assured of receiving wages from the outset.

Senator Foll - With the assistance of up-to-date plants would these mines be paying popositions?

Senator GRAHAM - I will not say that. It is impossible to say what may be discovered.

Senator Verran - To what mines is the honorable senator referring?

Senator GRAHAM - More particularly to the Great Boulder, Ivanhoe, Horseshoe, Lake View, Perseverance, and also various other mines, all of which could be worked with the assistance of modern plant.

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