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Wednesday, 1 June 1960

Mr JONES (Newcastle) (12:39 PM) .Mr. Deputy Speaker,I want to raise a matter which concerns my electorate.

Mr Chaney - The honorable member will talk to himself.

Mr JONES - I shall talk to myself if 1 want to, and if the honorable member does not want to listen he may get out.

I want to raise a matter which affects my electorate and to refer to the comments made by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) condemning and criticizing the coal-handling facilities at the port of Newcastle. I want to deal with the matter as it affects the employees in the coal trade. We have heard quite a lot of criticism by the Minister about the lack of proper facilities at Newcastle. However, 1 wish to refer to the lack of organization, by the stevedores in providing for the loading of coal. On 23rd May the ship " Lord Byron " was loading more than 1 0,000 tons of coal for Japan. According to the coal trimmers, the ship was delayed upwards of 30 hours in the port because of the failure of the employers to engage sufficient labour on the night shifts. This was done to save the payment of penalty rates. The records show definitely that there were not enough trimmers engaged in the early stages of loading. If the employers had been prepared to engage sufficient men, the ship would have left about 30 hours earlier than it did.

We often hear criticism from the Minister for National Development directed against the New South Wales Labour Government for its alleged failure to make enough money available for harbour development. The fact is that in the current financial year, it is estimated that £943,200 will be spent on the development of the Newcastle harbour. Over the past six years, the total expenditure on the port has totalled about £4,500,000. At the same time, a large sum of money has been expended on the Port Kembla harbour.

Recently I asked the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) in this House why the Government did not use the powers conferred on it under the arrangement with the Joint Coal Board to make money available for the development of the ports at Newcastle and Port Kembla. I pointed out that money could be made available for such work in any Australian port provided the development was associated with the coal export trade. I know that supporters of the Government are not pleased because I am directing attention to these matters at this late hour, but the Government made us sit in this place until 4 a.m. recently and honorable members opposite can listen to these facts now.

The Minister for National Development is snaky with the New South Wales Government because it is not prepared to permit private enterprise to develop new coal mines and so reap a rich harvest in profits. The Minister continually snipes at the New South Wales Government on the question of harbour improvements and at the unions, but he is not prepared to inquire into the inadequate organization which is responsible for ships not clearing the ports more quickly. I urge that more consideration be given to the provision of money for port development, under the arrangement 1 have mentioned.

In conclusion I want to protest against the policy of the Japanese Government and various Japanese companies in trying to play off one port or one State against another so that the Japanese can get coal at prices below the cost of production; in fact, I will go so far as to say that the Japanese are trying to play off one country against another. One newspaper report that I have states that a representative of Australian and Japanese engineering concerns had discussed at Rockhampton the possibility of buying Kianga coal through Port Alma. From time to time, the Japanese show interest in coal from Newcastle, Port Kembla, New Zealand, Canada and America and they play one off against the other. I hope the Government will watch this development and make sure that the interests of the Australian trade as a whole are protected.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 12.45 a.m. (Thursday).

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