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Wednesday, 25 March 1942

Senator CLOTHIER (Western Australia) . - My intention in contributing to this debate is to defend the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson). I remind you, Mr. President, that you and I travelled to Western Australia with the honorable member a few weeks ago, and several times I asked him why he was going to Kalgoorlie. True to his Government, he would not divulge the nature of his mission.

He had a set purpose which he kept to himself. I admire him for that. Only too often in the past governments have been lackadaisical in their methods, and the task undertaken by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie shows evidence of planning ahead in an endeavour to let the people know what the future holds for them. As the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) has said, we can rest assured that the goldminers will not lose anything. I have no fears whatsoever on that score. I repeat that in the past governments have been too lackadaisical in their methods; but on this occasion definite action is indicated. So many thousand men are needed, and the Government knows where to get them. No body is more anxious than I am to keep the gold-mining industry in operation, but an assurance has been given that the gold-miners will be cared for. The Minister for External Territories (Senator Fraser) mentioned the profits of mining concerns. I point out that when the You and Me gold-mine in Western Australia was closed down I wa3 the only federal member in that State at the time, and a deputation waited on me in regard to the matter. I was informed that the revenue was not sufficient to keep the concern going and that it had been decided to sell some of the pumping plant and equipment to obtain revenue. That mine closed down, and 70 families left the district. It has been stated that if the miners left Kalgoorlie, many other people would leave also, but that is not right. Many hundreds of people are travelling to such places as Kalgoorlie and Norseman to get away from the dangers of war. I am convinced that more people are going to the mining districts than are leaving them. The remarks made by the Minister for Trade and Customs should convince honorable senators that the mines will be safeguarded. As Senator Collett has said, we Western Australians are very patriotic, and we have contributed our full share to the war effort. I am impelled to defend the honorable member for Kalgoorlie because I know that he has performed his task with fidelity. He refused even to tell his mates the nature of the mission on which he was engaged before he reached the gold-fields. I am satisfied that he has done a good job. We may rest assured on that point.

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