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Wednesday, 19 May 1915

Mr WATKINS (NEWCASTLE, NEW SOUTH WALES) .- I want particularly to call the attention of the Government to the fact that in the district which I represent, owing to the action of the Defence Department in placing an embargo on the export of coal from the port of Newcastle, the export mines have been left practically in a . state of idleness. Many of their men have not had a day's work for two or three months, and there must be close upon 3,000 men idle.

Sir John Forrest - That has been done by the Labour Government. ,

Mr Fisher - Does the right honorable gentleman desire that we should provide the enemy with coal?

Mr WATKINS (NEWCASTLE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I can say, in reply to the right honorable member for Swan, that if the Newcastle miners thought that the coal would be going into enemy ships, they would suffer idleness rather than permit that to be done. Owing to the war and to the dislocation of foreign shipping, unemployment in my ' district has been brought about. Six hundred or 700 men working at one mine have been given notice that it is closed down. I admit that the opportunities afforded the Federal Government for giving employment to people are very limited when compared with those which may be exercised by the State Governments, but there are certain works in the Newcastle district which should have been begun by the Federal Government over twelve mouths ago, and there is no reason why they should not be put in hand. I ask Ministers to abolish the red-tapism which makes it necessary to have so many surveys of a harbor like that of Port Stephens. There is money on the Estimates for the clearing of rifle ranges, and some employment could be given by the expenditure of that money. I hope that every effort will be made to afford relief to people who are in distress as the result of unemployment.

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