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Thursday, 1 August 1946

1.   The fatal accident rate in the mines in New South Wales is excessive.

2.   A large percentage of the fatalities would have been avoided by the exercise of greater care in supervision.

3.   The non-fatal accident rate is also - too high in all States.

4.   Observance of Regulations such as are contained in the Regulations under Coal Mines Regulation Act (New South Wales) should produce better results.

5.   If an improvement is not made, there should be provision for the appointment of safety officers to make continuous inspections and insist upon proper precautions being used.

No honorable member opposite saw fit to quote that passage. I wish also to refer to remarks made by Mr. Justice Davidson about the Coalcliff Colliery which was taken over by the Government. Efforts have been made by honorable gentlemen opposite to' discredit Government management of this mine, but Mr. Justice Davidson's observations have completely justified the action of the Government. His Honour reported as follows -

1.   In taking control of the mine the Commissioner adopted the only reasonable course available to procure continued production.

2.   His efforts in some degree failed notwithstanding every effort that could reasonably have been made by any manager.

3.   The assumption of control was of great value to the industry if for no other reason than that it led to the introduction of the most effective means of controlling dust in pillar workings yet practised.

If government control has resulted in nothing else than the introduction of proper measures for the control of dust, it would have been entirely justified. The miners now working in this colliery are assured that they are not taking any unnecessary risk of dusting, whereas for many years past they have had to face great and continuous danger in this regard. The safety measures introduced by the Government will result in the protection of the lives of many coalminers. If the dust nuisance can be properly controlled, and the management of the mines overhauled, many of the problems of the industry will be eliminated.

I bring to the notice of honorable gentlemen also the following passage from Mr. Justice Davidson's report: -

1.   The coal industry in its major fields is a tottering industry.

2.   Manifestations of this unhappy condition are to be found in -

(a)   a widely spread feeling of antagonism on the part of many mine-workers towards the management and the colliery proprietors ;

(b)   lack of co-operation in the great majority of themines between management and employees;

(c)   constant industrial troubles in the form of incessant pit-top meetings, absenteeism, stoppages of production and strikes;

(d)   extraordinary apathy in the most stable sections of the workers towards these hindrances to their earning capacity;

(e)   almost complete absence of discipline;

(f)   an excessive accident rate to which

(e)   is a contributing factor;

(g)   inefficiency and archaic methods of mining in the greater number of the mines owing largely to inadequate mechanization;

(h)   mounting costs and declining output;

(i)   lack of stability to guarantee future prosperity.

That shows clearly that the blame for stoppages in his industry are by no means all on one side. In fact the mine-owners must accept a very large share of the responsibility for the troubles that have occurred.

In conclusion,. I wish to reply to remarks that have been made by honorable gentlemen opposite in praise of private enterprise in industry. I shall show that in regard to the coal-mining industry, at any rate, private enterprise has a very poor record over the years. Surely it is the primary duty of private enterprise to provide the goods that consumers need. Private enterprise in this industry has definitely failed to" deliver the goods ". The excuse that a section of the coal-miners has refused to work, cannot absolve the owners of the responsibility for providing coal for the community. This is one more example of the failure of private enterprise in industry in Australia.

Mr Guy - The coal industry has been under government control for years.

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