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Thursday, 17 November 1927

Senator LYNCH (West Australia) . - I did not expect so much ministerial opposition to this small morsel of comfort for the gold-mining industry. It represents less than a crumb from the overloaded table of government patronage to all other country industries. The Minister's first point was that the amendment had not been couched in the most appropriate phraseology. That is a thin excuse. A more important objection which he raised was the risk that would be involved. Having had a great deal of experience in business affairs, does he not know that for years mining propositions the world over have been assisted by not only private banks but also State financial institutions? I have had an experience extending over a number of years, and I know that to be a fact.

Senator Thompson - They have had securities apart from the mine. There is the personal element which guarantees security.

Senator LYNCH - The savings bank can obtain the same form of security. That which has been and is good enough for private business> ought to be good enough for this institution. The Minister says that it is not.

Senator McLachlan - Has the honorable senator ever heard of a savingsbank advancing money on mining security ?

Senator- LYNCH.- The Minister said that the management might have- some doubts as to the f oum that the encouragement should take. Those gentlemen are as well endowed with commonsense asany other body of men ; and if they were approached by the representative of a. gold-mining venture, they would see that ample security was provided for themoney advanced. The doors of both theprivate banks and the Commonwealth Bank a-re- to-day wide open to propositions of this kind. Why, then, close the doors of this- bank to- them? I can. assurethe Minister that the Commonwealth Bank has taken, a leading part in the financing of a. mining proposition in which I had an interest. Is it intended to- placeon the door of this institution a placard which reads, " Open to all except thepioneer gold-getter ?"

Senator Pearce - This provision will not apply to' manufacturers.

Senator LYNCH - The list of persons and institutions which the bank may assist under this proposed section runs practically the whole gamut of rural industry. What is the use of the Minister splitting hairs in that way? All our primary industries, except the goldmining industry, may derive benefits from the new institution.

Senator Thompson - Gold-mining is largely speculative whereas wool-growing is not.

Senator LYNCH - So far as I am concerned, everything is speculative. Any differences are only differences of degree. Why do honorable senators who are so solicitous for other primary industries refuse to grant assistance to the gold-mining industry? The Commonwealth' Savings Bank will obtain money from depositors in mining centres, but that money must not be spent there.. The people in those centres are to be told that their savings cannot be used in their own district, but must be utilized for the encouragement of other industries elsewhere. Why this differentiation? Why should gold-mining for ever be the Cinderella of our industries? The Commonwealth Bank already assists metalliferous mining, in this country, but when the savings bank business has been separated from the general banking business, that branch will be precluded from assisting gold-mining. I should not be surprised to find on the door of the savings bank a notice intimating that a reward of £100 will be paid to any person who gives information leading to the conviction of any gold-getter who enters the bank or is found on its premises. The producers of wool, hops or wheat will be welcomed by the bank, but the gold-getter is te be warned off the premises. Senator Thompson says that gold-mining ' is largely speculative. What a foundation

On which to build an argument! We all know that risks are inseparable from industry of every kind.

Senator Ogden - -Does the honorable senator suggest that the funds of the savings bank should be made available to assist prospecting?

Senator LYNCH - The way should be open to any man who discovers a mine and develops it until it produces gold in payable quantities, to obtain an increase of capital by means of advances from the savings bank and increase his credit facilities. The door should not be closed in- his face. What is the reason for preventing the funds of the savings bank from being devoted to the assistance of the gold-mining industry when the general branch of the Commonwealth Bank will continue to grant assistance to that industry?

Senator Payne - The bank must have some security.

Senator LYNCH - I do- not know whether Senator Payne has had any connexion with metalliferous mining companies which have obtained advances from the Commonwealth Bank. I have been associated with such companies,, and know that they have been assisted by the bank.

Senator Payne - The advances were made not on the security of the mine, but on personal security.

Senator LYNCH - Thousands of pounds are advanced every year to mining companies by the Commonwealth Bank, yet this new department of file institution which is to be created, ostensibly with the object of assisting Australian industries, is liotto grant assistance to the gold-mining industry, although it may help other industries. Why is the gold-mining industry to be black-balled in this way? Are the citizens engaged in it less worthy than other Australian citizens? By granting assistance to gold-mining companies, the private banks have answered the objection of Senator Thompson that gold mining is a risky business.

Senator Foll - If the general branch of the Commonwealth Bank will continue to grant assistance to gold-mining, what necessity will there be for the savings bank to do the same?

Senator LYNCH - A large proportion of the bank's assets will be taken from it by the separation of the savings bank business. A practice which obtains in one section of the bank should be followed and continued in connexion with all its activities. Although I am seeking only a morsel of relief for a deserving industry, my appeal apparently falls on deaf ears. The responsibility, however, is not mine, but that of the Government and those who, in all circumstances, follow its lead. Why put the gold miner in the coal cellar while other citizens recline in comfort? The pioneer gold-getter should be treated in the same way that other citizens are treated. I ask for no more and no less. How different would be the attitude of the Government towards the gold-mining industry if, instead of having no direct representative in this Parliament, it was" represented by a solid phalanx of, say, ten members. In that case, instead of refusing every request made on behalf of the industry, the Government would be asking in what further directions it could help, and what additional favours it could bestow. Yes, if the industry had the numbers, what a different spectacle we should have. What a change would come o'er the spirit of the dream. On' a previous occasion, when the Senate was considering the condition of the gold-mining industry, honorable senators generally agreed that it should be assisted. Here is a chance to do something in that direction. Here is a chance for it to stand to its former word. Honorable senators should insist on funds of the savings bank being made available to assist the gold-mining industry. The meat producer, who has already received two bounties from the Government, may go to the savings bank for assistance under this proposed section, yet the gold miner who goes farther afield than the meat producer, is to be debarred from receiving the same assistance. Why should he be prosecuted? If that is justice, then my conception of the term is decidely warped. I leave the matter in the hands of the Senate, believing that it will, as on a former occasion, agree that something should be done to assist the gold-mining industry. On the occasion referred to, the Leader of the Government in this chamber said that he regarded the vote as an indication that something substantial should be done for the industry. But what has been done since then?

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