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Thursday, 1 September 1960

Mr Ward d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

1.   What is the extent of the Commonwealth financial assistance to the cost of the construction of the Mount Isa railway?

2.   Is this major work being undertaken to meet the needs of Mount Isa Mines Limited in the development of plans to extend production in this area?

3.   Is it a fact that earlier this year a bonus issue of shares in the ratio of one for every three held was made by Mount Isa Mines Limited to shareholders?

4.   Did these shares have a face value of 5s. but at the time of issue actually sell on the stock exchange for a price in the vicinity of £4?

5.   Did this transaction represent a gain of approximately £30,000,000 for the shareholders?

6.   Is it a fact that only about 25 per cent, of the share capital is held in Australia?

7.   In view of these circumstances, was further government financial assistance to this foreign company justified?

Mr Menzies - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   To make advances to the Queensland Government up to an amount of £20,000,000 to enable that Government to rebuild and modernize the railway from Collinsville to Mount Isa. These advances will bear interest and will be repayable over a period of twenty years.

2.   The general purpose of the railway project is to provide railway facilities adequate for development of north-western Queensland which has great and varied resources. It is expected that a large and increasing amount of traffic on the railway will come from the mining developments going on at Mount Isa. 3 to 7. The Commonwealth is not in a position to give details of particular aspects of the affairs of the company to which the honorable member refers. ...JJ*U^

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