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Thursday, 18 August 1960

Mr CREAN (Melbourne Ports) . - We are debating a motion by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Browne) that the Government should do something to stimulate the gold-mining industry. The interesting point about it is that although the motion has come from a Government supporter, we have had no statement from the Government itself about what it proposes to do in response to the honorable member's request.

The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) seemed to be explaining that it was very difficult for the Government to do anything along the lines suggested. Well, at least the honorable member was frank about it, but this cannot be much consolation for the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. As the honorable member for Wentworth rightly pointed out, gold is almost a unique example of a commodity the price of which has not changed for many years. I think the current world price of 35 dollars an ounce has been the same since 1934 or thereabouts. Since that time, of course, the prices of practically all other commodities have trebled and quadrupled due to what we call inflation. The gold-mining industry is caught, of course, between the two millstones, the upper one being the fixed price of the product, the nether one the ever-grinding upward trend in costs of production. Apparently all that the Australian Government is able to do, having regard to its subscription to the conditions of the International Monetary Fund, is to give a limi ted amount of assistance to gold producers by way of a bounty, and to extend such other concessions as the exemption of goldmining enterprises from the payment of income tax, and the exemption from income tax of fossickers and others who find gold.

Recently we had a measure before this House that increased the amount of bounty payable on gold production by about 10s. an ounce.

Debate interrupted under Standing Order No. 108.

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