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Wednesday, 10 May 1972
Page: 2281

Mr LUCHETTI (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - -Does the Minister for National Development know that a number of mine workers have received notice of dismissal from their employment and that further sackings are threatened in the western coal fields of New South Wales? Will the Minister take immediate action to protect the employment of workers engaged in the mining industry and, with the object of saving jobs and providing employment, confer with the Minister for Trade and Industry regarding market opportunities and with the Minister fox Labour and National Service and the Minister for Supply regarding alternative employment?

Mr SWARTZ (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for National Development) - This matter is one of great concern to anyone who has some association with the industry in question. At the moment we are engaged in discussions with Japan, our principal customer for coal, with a view to maintaining our export market In addition I know that my colleague the Minister for Trade and Industry is taking advantage of every opportunity through his Department to explore market opportunities when they arise. However, on the practical side, production and the employment of workers within the State of New South Wales are matters which concern principally the Government of New South Wales. We have had discussions with the Government of New South Wales in relation to this situation and I know that that Government is fully aware of the problems that face the coal industry in that State at present. These are due to competitive markets overseas and, to some degree, to a falling off in orders for the immediate future. We hope that the market situation will improve within the next couple of years and also hope that there will be an upturn in world steel production that could help the situation. In the short term there are certainly some problems to be faced. However, as I said before, it is principally a matter that concerns the New South Wales Government, and I know it is fully aware of the situation and is doing what it can to assist in these fields. As to the matters that come within the jurisdiction of my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, he is, of course, aware of the situation. I know that his Department is taking constant action in these fields to assist where it can to the best of its ability.

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