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Friday, 18 November 1927

Senator GRANT (New South Wales) . - Undoubtedly the gold-mining industry has been a very important one in Australia. To the discovery of gold was largely due the enormous increase in our population that took place in the ten years that followed it. Our mines have been very prolific. From 1851 to 1924, no less than £619,159,653 worth of gold was extracted from the earth. But there is one outstanding characteristic of gold-mining and other mining that is absent from the production of other com-, modities - once a metal or mineral is taken out of the mine it does not grow, so far as we know, a second time. The use of savings bank money in an attempt to induce worn-out mines to produce more gold would have a most damaging effect on the institution assuming that its directors were foolish enough to agree to such a thing. As soon as gold is discovered it is dug up, very often under very unfavorable conditions, and is removed to other countries and dumped into prepared vaults, where it remains for an indefinite number of years. We have 'only a few million pounds worth left out of our enormous production of gold. It must surely appeal to honorable senators that it would be exceedingly undesirable to give the directors of the Commonwealth Savings Bank the power to invest any portion of their deposits in gold-mining ventures. I do not think they would for a moment countenance any proposal to do so. If there is any reasonable certainty of gold being found in payable quantities, there is never any difficulty in securing ample capital from outside sources to work the venture. On the most flimsy evidence large sums of money have been invested in the most recently discovered gold-bearing areas in New Guinea. No matter where gold is discovered men will rush there and money will be invested in order to extract it from the earth. Why should we seek to incorporate in this bill a provision of which no sane body of directors' would take advantage ? On the grounds that I have mentioned, I intend to vote against the amendment.

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