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Tuesday, 17 February 1959

Mr BROWNE (Kalgoorlie) . - I move -

That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to-

May it Please Your Excellency -

We, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.

In submitting this motion I am deeply aware of the dual honour that has been given to me, both by the people of Kalgoorlie in electing me to this Parliament as their representative, and by the House in entrusting to me the moving of the adoption of this Address-in-Reply. It is with a sense of humility that I take my place in this Parliament to sit on this side of the House in company with supporters of a Government which has just been returned to office with an increased majority after having governed for nine years. That is surely a record and I. think reflects the wisdom with which the Government has acted in the past and the sensibility of the Australian people of that wisdom. I take this opportunity of congratulating the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on having added yet another achievement to his already remarkable record of service to the nation. To you. Mr. Speaker, I extend my sincere congratulations on having been re-elected to your high and responsible office.

I should like to pay tribute to my predecessor, Mr. H. V. Johnson, for had he not retired I almost certainly would not be here ' to-day. Mr. Johnson was regarded very highly by his electors and was respected by all who knew him. His exclusion from the pre-selection was regretted by many. It will probably seem strange to many that Victor Johnson is no longer here and that his successor now sits opposite Mr. Johnson's former colleagues. I intend to give them plenty of time to get used to the idea.

HisExcellency's reference to the forthcoming visit by Her Royal Highness, the Princess Alexandra of Kent, will be welcomed by all Australians. We have been very fortunate in recent years with Royal visits and I am sure Her Royal Highness's visit will provide yet another opportunity to re-affirm our loyalty to the Crown.

The beef industry research scheme mentioned by His Excellency will be regarded as good news indeed1 by the industry in general and, in particular, by those engaged in raising cattle in the north of Queensland, the Northern Territory, and the north of Western Australia. There are vast problems in these areas related to herd improvement, herd management, breeding, marketing, and transport in those areas, and I presume that those matters will come within the scope of the scheme.

There is an enormous stretch of country in the north of Australia which, given the right kind of development and assistance, and with guidance to settlers, could become the world's foremost cattle breeding area. At present, cattle stations are forced to run on uneconomic lines and, as a result, much land is wasted and the turn-off of store cattle is but a small fraction of the potential production of the area. It is my intention, at future sittings of this House, to draw the attention of honorable members to the need to develop the north.

Speaking of my own electorate, of which about 500,000 square miles lie north of the Tropic of Capricorn, there is plenty to be done if we are to retain our moral right to hold these regions. We have an abundance of natural resources including iron ore, copper, manganese, bauxite - and there may even be a little oil there. We have some of the best grazing land in Australia, and water to irrigate it, if necessary. We have the potential there to support a large population. In a world already concerned1 with the problems of over-population, it is unacceptable to our Asian neighbours that this part of Australia, with its obvious wealth, is virtually uninhabited. As there are many millions of these people living closer to the Kimberleys than do most honorable members of this House, I cannot stress too much the importance of developing the area. From the points of view of our economy, defence, and security, it is vital.

It was a source of great encouragement to me and to my fellow residents of Kalgoorlie that the Prime Minister last year paid a visit to the gold-fields, Pilbara and Kimberley districts of my electorate, and that, presumably as a result of that visit, a further £2,500,000 of federal money was ear-marked for use by the State Government in the north-west. This action has been received by the residents of the north as a welcome sign that at last some one is prepared to face up to the problems of our northern areas and do something about them.

Honorable members of long standing have, no doubt, had their fill of dissertations on the wonders of the Kalgoorlie division from my two immediate predecessors, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Green. 1 am happy to say that I shall follow their noble example. Because of the largeness of my electorate and the diversity of its products, I must devote much of my time in this House to that end, if I am to be successful in my attempts to have the electorate developed.

I have inherited a responsibility to many thousands of people who rely for their livelihood upon the gold-mining industry. Few industries, if any, depend so much upon the economic policies of governments as does the gold-mining industry. This Government's attitude towards gold is generally to be commended. With taxation relief and subsidies granted to small producers and marginal mines, the industry is generally regarded as being secure for the immediate future. However, at future sittings of the House I will stress the need for some form of assistance to be given to the industry to enable it to effect complete extraction of gold from low-grade ore bodies, thus fully utilizing a valuable national asset. At present, it is necessary for some mining companies to by-pass lowgrade ore bodies in their drives for richer ore. The fact that it is virtually impossible to return to these by-passed ore bodies makes it essential that some incentive be given to the industry to enable it to mine all of the reserves on a face. Should there be a rise in the price of gold, these bypassed ore bodies will represent an unattainable store of wealth.

While on the subject of gold, I would like to touch briefly on the future of the industry, which relies to a large extent on the prospector. To-day there is little encouragement given to young men to go out into the field and find new deposits of gold. It is generally conceded that there are still large deposits undiscovered in Western Australia, but without the incentive to go out and find them the future of the industry could be bleak.

Hailing from the electorate which produces nearly all the gold that comes out of Australia, I was profoundly disappointed to hear recently that the American attitude towards a rise in the price of gold had hardened. Coming at a time when hopes of a rise were high, the United States Treasury's announcement came as a severe blow to the industry. There is little doubt in mining circles that Western Australia could, for many years to come, yield large quantities of gold if only the present high costs of extraction were offset by a higher price for the commodity. As it is, mines have closed and even large towns have been deserted, because it is no longer economic to treat the still considerable quantities of gold-bearing ore that remain. The thriving town of Norseman is at present in danger of suffering from depleted population and a curtailment of mining activities, resulting in considerable unemployment, because of the effect of expected rail freight increases on pyrites concentrates produced at that town. Having seen the towns of Wiluna, Big Bell, Menzies, Laverton and others in their present pathetic state of decline, I express the earnest hope that the remaining goldproducing towns will be spared a similar fate. The gold-mining areas of Western Australia represent practically the only instance of wholesale retrogression in a nation proud of its progress. The remedy is largely in the hands of the United States Government. Its application would not only cure the local Western Australian ills, but would also stimulate the whole system of AustralianAmerican trade.

In concluding this speech on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, I express the hope that this Twenty-third Parliament will, in its wisdom, act for the continuing peace and prosperity of this wonderful young country. We have come a long way in a short time, and as each year passes the rate of our growth accelerates beyond all reasonable expectations. All of us, including my young self, have seen unfold part of the remarkable evolution of a nation. May we all see Australia rich in her maturity and universally respected as one of the great nations of the world.

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