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Thursday, 1 August 1946

Mr ABBOTT (New England) (2:25 AM) - The remarks of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), are extraordinary in that they disclose the Government's real intention under this measure. The measure is described as -

A bill for an act to provide means for Securing and Maintaining adequate Supplies nf coal throughout Australia and for providing for the Regulation and Improvement of the Coal Industry in the/ State' of New South Wales, and for other purposes.

The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has not told us the reason for adding to the definition of coal the words " and such other by-products and derivatives of coal as' are prescribed ". He has merely said' that they are necessary to cover the production of oil from coal. However, there are hundreds of derivatives from coal, including by-products used in primary industries, such as, fertilizer and sulphate of ammonia, those used in the clothing trades, tar, benzol, moth balls, and various by-products used iri the manufacture of explosives. On a previous occasion the Minister said it was His intention to convert this country into a new Jerusalem. Possibly, he would like to turn it into a Jerusalem like that in which .the King David Hotel was recently destroyed in a bomb outrage. Clause 13, which deals with declared powers and functions of the proposed board, provides in sub-clause 2 (c) for " the introduction, modification, replacement and operation of machinery, plant and equipment for use in connexion with the production and distribution of coal . . .". If all of. these additional meanings are. to be read into the definition of coal, I can only describe the measure as a cunning device designed to. enable the Government to get control of many more industries. It will enable the Government to interfere in the establishment of new factories which are being set up for the manufacture of artificial fibre, and many other industries. On many occasions, honorable members on this side of the chamber have drawn attention- to the Government's habit of taking matters completely out of the hands of the Parliament and giving sole power to the Executive. Who is to prescribe "such other byproducts and derivatives of coal as are prescribed " ? The Government certainly will not allow Parliament to prescribe them. They will be prescribed hy the Executive, the bureaucratic hidden hand which rules the Government. Dozens of industries may be interfered with under this hill -which is brought down ostensibly to enable the Government to increase the production of coal. As I have already said, the measure' is a cunning device to give to the Government wide powers over many industries. The Minister should explain why the Government has departed from- the previous definition . of coal, which simply defined' coal to include coke.

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