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Friday, 21 June 1946

Mr CHIFLEY (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Prime Minister) - I have not read: the statement to which the honorable member has referred, but I discussed the matter By telephone with the Premier of Victoria when I was in Melbourne recently. I also spoke tohim on the matter by telephone as late as yesterday afternoon. It is true that a week previously, ships proceeding to Melbourne with coal were delayed- by bad weather.Itisalsotrue that the Premier of Victoria told me yesterday afternoon that the coal position in that. State was most serious. I arrangedwiththeMinister for Supply and Shipping, who administers matters relating to coal, to let me have the latest information concerning the position, and the possibility of having supplies of coal forwarded to Victoria. I sent a telephone message to Mr. Cain yesterday afternoon intimating the best that could be done in the circumstances. At our previous discussion he had asked that the quantity of coal being forwarded by train should be increased, and that was done tothe extent of about 300 tons a- day. The House should understand that Victoria is getting more coal from New South Wales now than it was prior to the war, and' it is receiving a higher percentage of the total output of New South Wales coal than before the war.

Mr Holt - Is it receiving greater supplies than during the war years?

Mr CHIFLEY - I shall obtain a statement giving an exact answer to that question. Apart from the difficulties of production, there is an ever-increasing demand for coal, and that applies to Vic toria as elsewhere. Prior to the war.; Victoria was getting less than 900,000 tons of coal, and it is now receiving an average of over 1,000,000 tons.. I am not putting that fact forward in extenuation of the shortage or delays, but there is an increased demand for coal in Victoria. For some time there was a. breakdown of the machinery with which brown coal is produced in Victoria. I shall obtain a precise statement of the coal position, and let the honorable member have it as soon as' possible.

Mr:RYAN.- Can the Prime Minister say when copies of Mr. JusticeDavidson's report on the coal-mining industry will be available?

Mr CHIFLEY - The magnitude of the report, and the fact that it contains a great many graphs, have created technical difficulties for the printers. For this reason, the Government Printer found thatit would be extremely difficult to do the work, and an endeavour was then made to have the report printed: elsewhere, but without success. I now understand that the Government Printer can undertake the work provided expert assistance is made availablehere. I have not inquired during the last few weeks regarding the progress of the work, but I shall do so, and shall advise the honorable member of' the result of my inquiries.

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