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Wednesday, 13 May 1942

Senator ASHLEY - lt is recorded in Ronsard that the honorable senator attributed the necessity to transport the coal from Newcastle to Port Kembla to the fact that the southern miners were on strike. The very fact that coal has to be sent from Port Kembla to Newcastle shows how incorrect the honorable member's contention was. The attitude of some honorable senators opposite, especially that of Senator McBride, is not calculated to assist the Government either in settling the trouble in the coal-mining industry, or in prosecuting the war. Members of the Opposition are demanding in the press and in Parliament that action be taken against the coal-miners, but they forget that their former leader, the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) found it necessary to make a special visit to the northern coal-fields, in order -to appeal to 15.000 miners to return to work. What action was taken by the then Government on that occasion? There was no action at all. With his head bowed the right honorable gentleman went to the coalfield and pleaded. The miners still bear the scars of the depression years when the owners would not allow them to work. Now, because they seek to get the conditions to which they are entitled, reflections are cast upon them which are unworthy of any member of Parliament, particula rly a senator who holds so high a position as that of Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

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