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Friday, 4 October 1918
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Mr CONSIDINE (Barrier) .- I desire to support the request made by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), in the hope that,_ as the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) said, the whole question of the " basic metal industry of the country will , be dealt with openly, and all. the facts laid before honorable members. I have endeavoured to obtain information from the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) with regard to the deal in zinc and lead between the British Board of Trade and the Australian companies. This is a matter that vitally interests my constituents, who are mainly engaged in the mines at Broken Hill; but no information can be obtained as to the circumstances surrounding this deal. In reply to my question, the Acting Prime Minister said he had information from the British authorities that it was not advisable to make those circumstances public. I cannot see that the prices or output can, by any stretch of the imagination, be construed as information likely to be of service to enemy countries; and if the present silence is observed, it may lead to grave dissatisfaction outside. When the men employed at the mines seek increased wages, in view of the high cost of living, there are no facts available on which they can base their claim, or on which their claim can be answered. In such an event, they will be placed in a similar position to that which arose when a case was before the Arbitration Court, and certain confidential information was handed to the presiding Judge. Such action in regard to the mines at Broken Hill would be most unsatisfactory from my point of view. Those who are actually employed in the industry are entitled to know the conditions operating from the point of view of the share market. We know that a great deal of gambling goes on in regard to mining shares; and if information is in the hands of relatively few people, and the market keeps jumping about, with large sums changing hands, there is created suspicion that ought not to be connected wilh the business. The Government will be well advised if they take the House into their confidence.

Question resolved in the affirmative.







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