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Thursday, 13 October 1949

Mr HARRISON (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I direct the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Fuel to evidence given before the Coal Industry Tribunal that 75 per cent. of the coalminers employed at the Burwood mine were selling on the black market the coal issued to them free for household purposes; that carters were making up to £20 a week each as the result of this practice; and that the Joint Coal Board was aware of what was going on. Did the Joint Coal Board exercise the wide powers conferred upon it by the Coal Industry Act to control the distribution of all coal in New South Wales by taking action to ensure that, if coal provided for the miners was not wanted by them, it was diverted to where it was urgently needed ? If the board took no such action, did it connive at the practice- of the coal-miners in selling free household coa) on the black market? For how long have miners been thus disposing of their free coal issue? Has the Government issued a direction to the Joint Coal Board under section 18 (2.) of the Coal Industry Act, which makes the board subject to Government direction on matters of policy, in regard to the selling of coal by miners on the black market? If not, is it the policy of the Government to allow one section of the working community to profit at the expense of other sections by selling on the black market a commodity that is acutely scarce?

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