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Thursday, 17 November 1927

Senator GRAHAM (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I can supply the honorable senator with the information if he so desires. Other industries have been assisted in the form of bounties and subsidies to the extent of nearly £7,000.000. Representatives of "Western Australia in this Parliament have had repeated interviews with the Prime Minister and Treasurer on this matter, but to no avail. As Senator Andrew has pointed out, if assistance is given to the gold mining industry, it will mean an influx of population. It is true that the Commonwealth has put aside £25,000 to be distributed by the States for the purpose of enabling people to prospect for gold in Australia. The smallness of the amount is an insult to the industry. No one knows better than those who have lived on gold-fields that £25,000 is a mere drop in the ocean compared with what is needed. The- amount provided could be sunk in one field and not noticed. It would not equip two good camel outfits to prospect the . interior. The position of the Western Australian mines is that the deeper they are the more refractory the ore becomes, and the more difficult to treat. It has been necessary for the mine-owners to pick out only the highest grade ore to keep their men employed. With assistance from the Commonwealth Government they could treat some of the lower grade ore at a profit, thus giving direct employment to thousands of miners, and indirect employment to thousands of others. After inspecting the different mines on the Golden Mile and in other parts of Australia, the recently appointed Development and Migration Commission recommended that the Government should put £300,000 into the industry, and that the companies operating on the Golden Mile should amalgamate in order to reduce overhead charges. In the Senate I asked the Leader of the Senate a question dealing with this recommendation, and the answer he gave me was that the £300,000 would not be paid until the mining companies had exhausted every channel in an effort to raise the money themselves. In order to raise money to equip their mines with the best machinery for the treatment of the lower grade ore the companies have already exhausted every channel, and .the Government, knowing this, should put into effect the suggestion of the Development and Migration Commission. It is my opinion that, although amalgamation of effort may reduce overhead charges, the £300,000 recommended by the commission will be barely sufficient to purchase the machinery required to enable the amalgamation to be effective. It is time honorable senators supporting the Government asked themselves whether they are doing right in letting the goldmining industry drop out of existence. It is time they came to its assistance in its hour of stress. No one knows what may happen. No one can see what lies behind 6 feet of ground. In any case, Senator Lynch's proposal is for money to be lent to the industry, and if money is lent it will only be what was filched from the mine-owners during the war. Assistance, if granted in the form of loans, would enable small mines outside the Kalgoorlie belt to become as productive as they were prior to the war; and who is to say that one of them will not prove to be another Great Boulder, Ivanhoe, or Lake ' View Consols ? I regret that the Government has turned a deaf ear to every request for assistance for the gold-mining industry.

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