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Thursday, 17 November 1927


Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) . - I had hoped that, besides opening its pockets, long ere this the Government would have opened its ears to the pleading on behalf of the gold-mining industry. I do not know whether the Minister in charge of the bill intends to speak to the amendment moved by Senator Lynch, but T know that the amendment is certainly worthy of favorable and sympathetic consideration, and that no industry in the Commonwealth is more deserving of assistance than the gold-mining industry. I know of no industry that has been so badly treated. Senator Lynch and others have related the history of the continued appeals to the present Government, and its predecessors in office for assistance. They have pointed out what the industry suffered during the war, and has suffered since the war; but all their protestations have fallen on deaf ears. Instances have been given of various industries that have been and are being assisted by bounties. The original plea for assistance for the gold-mining industry was for a bounty, which I prefer to Senator Lynch's present proposal, because it would be cheaper to the industry than the method suggested in the amendment. But realizing that our efforts to secure assistance by means of a bounty have failed, I have no hesitation in supporting Senator Lynch's new proposal. Ministers may point to the assistance afforded by the Precious Metals Prospecting Act, which has been termed by Senator Graham an insult to those engaged in the gold-mining industry. In addition to not getting assistance in the shape of a bounty, the goldmining' industry is sorely handicapped as a result of the tariff. Almost every time our Customs Tariff has been amended, higher and still higher duties have been imposed on mining machinery. The last increase, imposing much higher duties, hit the' gold-mining industry very hurd, particularly the mines of Kalgoorlie, whose depth is great and 'whose ore is low in grade. The industry's appeal for lower duties fell on deaf ears. Gold-mininghas been described as a national industry. It is undoubtedly the forerunner of other industries. We are told that Australia's great necessity is " men, money and markets ". The gold-mining industry provides a very big home market. Thosewho are engaged in it, devote the whole of their time and energies to the work, but do not make goods for themselves. It attracts population to a greater extent than any migration scheme is capable of doing. It must be conceded that an unlimited quantity of virgin gold awaits discovery. Therefore, I think that the industry should be assisted in every way. I should prefer assistance to take the form of a bounty; but in the circumstances, I propose to support the amendment. Any sum that may be advanced by the savings bankwill be obtained at a cheaper rate than that at which it could be obtained from any other source.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the honorable senator in favour of the savings bank advancing money for prospecting?


Senator NEEDHAM - The amendment suggests that it should advance money to help the gold-mining industry, which did so much for Australia during the war, and has suffered so greatly since the termination of that conflict. Again and again we have appealed for assistance by way of bounty, but our efforts have not been successful.







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