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Wednesday, 27 November 1935

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE - On the 31st October, Senator Collings asked me the following questions, without notice : -

1.   Is it a fact that the iron ore deposit at Yampi Sound, KoolanIsland, hasbeen sold to the Britishfirm of Connolly and Brasserts Limited?

2.   Is it a fact that a Japanese mining company (the Nippon Mining Company) has been admitted to the deal, and will now be in a position to supply Japan with iron ore in unlimited quantities?

3.   Was the sale made by the Government of Western Australia or by the Commonwealth Government?

4.   Does the Minister consider the sale a safe policy for Australia in view of possible international complications which are said to be likely in the Pacific?

In reply, I indicated that the matter did not come within the province of the Commonwealth Government, but that Iwould endeavour to obtain from the Government ofWestern Australia the information requested. The following reply has now been received from the Acting Premier of "Western Australia: -

1.   It is not a fact that this deposit has been sold, but the leases are under aption to the British firm of Brasserts Limited, for whom, I understand, Sir James Connolly is acting as agent. Mineral lands are leased for a term of 21 years, with the right of renewal for a further term of 21 years, at a lease rental of 5s. an acre per annum, at subject to labour conditions.

I have no knowledge that the Nippon Mining Company is concerned in the deal, although I believe, if the option is exercised, it is the intention of Brasserts to sell iron ore tothe Japanese. In this you will understand that, in times of peace, the sale of iron ore to the Japanese, or any other nations, is just as unrestricted as the sale of wool, wheat, beef, mutton , or any other commodity.

3.   The reply to No. 1 answers this in the negative.

4.   I am not informed that international complications in the Pacific are likely. Iron ure, when produced, may be sold in the open market. At the present moment all I know is that we have this huge iron ore deposit at Yampi, which is lying idle, and that Brasserts Limited have obtained an option over the leases from the present holder, a Mr. Buckley. If the option is exercised and the works established for the production of the ore, it will not be permissible for the company to employ Japanese labour. If they comply with the labour conditions and the mining laws of the State, and are a British company, I know of no means whereby we can impose restriction on the sale of the output.

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