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Wednesday, 25 March 1942

Senator ARTHUR (New South Wales) . - The matter to which Senator Allan MacDonald has directed attention should receive much closer consideration than has been given to it this afternoon. Having regard to the development of goldmining in Australia from the time of the Eureka incident, and considering the large number of lives that have been lost in the mines, the industrial conditions of the workers employed in them, and the avariciousness of the mine-owners, it is most desirable that the Senate should give close attention to the motion before it. Gold-mining has been responsible for more ill-health among the workers and it has created more widows and orphans than any other industry. I have in mind particularly the effect of dust on the lungs of the miners. The curtailment of mining operations in order to release man-power for war work has been considered by the present Government, as it was by the previous Administration. I believe that Senator Allan MacDonald voted against the Government which preceded the Curtin Administration on its proposed gold tax, particularly as it applied to gold-mining in Western Australia; but to-day thi: Commonwealth is led by a government that has given careful consideration to the best means of procuring the necessary man-power to prevent the Japanese from taking possession of our gold-mine3. In order to hold off the enemy, it is essential to build roads and provide aerodromes for the use of the allied forces now in this country. Honorable senators should decline to support the motion submitted by the honorable senator, in order that some of the " boodleiers " that have robbed the working miners in the past should be enabled to Barry on their operations.

Senator Allan MacDonald - It is not my intention to help the " boodleiers ".

Senator ARTHUR - Let us glance at the quotations for shares in gold-mines.

They are issued in London, where some of the " boodleiers " are -


Bulolo hasbeen bombed several times by the Japanese, yet sellers are holding their shares and asking £2 for shares for which buyers offer only £1.

Senator McLeay -What did the sellers pay for their shares?

Senator ARTHUR - In many instances, they bought them for a "mere song". They were encouraged by action taken in this Parliament in connexion with New Guinea leases.

Senator Cooper - What is the honorable senator trying to prove?

Senator ARTHUR - I am showing that, at a time when it is suggested that men engaged in gold-mining may be withdrawn from the mines in order to do essential war work, such as the construction of aerodromes and roads, stock exchange quotations from London show that sellers are asking much more for their shares than buyers are willing to offer. One is tempted to ask whether those who hold shares in mining companies have been given to understand that the Government will not be allowed to interfere with gold-mining. I have a practical knowledge of many classes of mining, as I have been engaged in connexion with the mining of copper, silver, lead, gold, antimony, scheelite, wolfram, opals and other metals and precious stones. My close association with the miners has convinced me of their loyalty.

Senator McLeay - Has the honorable senator sold any shares for profit?

Senator ARTHUR - Yes, and I have sold shares at a loss. We are told that men are required to construct aerodromes, roads and other works, but I point out that there are other spheres in which men now engaged in mining gold could be employed with profit to the nation. We are short of various metals required for this country's war effort. I know of places in this country where fairly large quantities of tin could be obtained. Men could be withdrawn from the gold-mines and employed in mining tin. Unlike gold, which cannot be made into bullets and is useful only in order to make profits for shareholders, tin. is urgently required for war purposes. Antimony also is in demand. The following paragraph from to-day's Sydney Morning Herald sets out the position in regard to supplies of antimony : -


Big Anti-Axis Advantage.

Supplies of antimony available to the demo cracies this year are likely to remain about four times those of the Axis, even should exports from China be entirely cut off by Japan se occupation or by severing of transport lines.

Prior to the Sino-Japancse war, China had produced over two-thirds of the world's antimony, chiefly from the Hunan province. Subsequently, dislocation of the industry led to an export of only 5.493 metric tons in 1940, against 16,348 tons in 1930, says The Economist. This decline has been more than offset by expansion of production in Mexico and Bolivia. Output of these two countries, with financial aid from the United States of America, was raised from 12,759 tons in 1930 to 20,099 tons in 1940, while last year's output is estimated at 25,000 tons. Usually, the whole of this supply is available to the United States of America.

I suggest, for the consideration of the Government, that men now engaged in mining for-gold could be diverted to other mining activities, so that metals needed for our war industries may be obtained.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brown). - The honorable senator's time has expired.

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