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Tuesday, 23 May 1972
Page: 2934

Mr GARLAND (Curtin) (Minister for Supply and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) - in reply- This Bill seeks to amend the Gold Mining Industry Assistance Act by, firstly, increasing the maximum rate of subsidy paid to large gold producers from $8 an ounce to $12 an ounce, secondly, increasing the proportion of the premium by which the prices obtained for gold exceed the official price of $3 1 .25 an ounce from 25 per cent to 50 per cent and, thirdly, extending the operation of the Act by 2 years from 30th June 1973 to 30th June 1975. It also seeks to make to the Act the administative amendment to which I referred in my second reading speech.

The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), who just spoke in the debate, put his finger on the point of the speech made by the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) when he said that this is a matter which affects the electorate of the honourable member for Kalgoorlie. 1 listened to a very party-political speech from the honourable member for Kalgoorlie. It was no surprise to learn from him that he did not think that the Government had done enough. That is always his cry. Indeed, with respect, it is always the cry of all members of the Opposition. 1 have never heard the honourable member for Kalgoorlie praise or approve of anything the Government has done. Of course, as has been said many times but which it is apparently necessary for me to repeat, the Government has a responsibility for the management of the whole economy and to see each proposal in the context of the whole. The honourable member for Kalgoorlie asked for a guarantee over a period. I am not sure that the Opposition's shadow Treasurer would agree with that. I think, if pressed, I could find remarks in some of his speeches which would put him in opposition to such a proposition. I think it ought to be recorded that the personal interest of the honourable member for Kalgoorlie in this matter is not really shared by his Party. There were only some 4 members of his Party in the House listening to his speech. Indeed, I think it is only fair to state that as soon as he finished the honourable member for Kalgoorlie immediately left the chamber. Apparently there is not a great deal of interest in this matter.

As I have said, the Government has seen the need to make these amendments and to put forward these proposals in order to support the gold mining industry in Kalgoorlie. I think that the honourable member for Kalgoorlie recognised that the premium revision was most important and, by implication, he supported it. The position of the goldmining industry has been much improved by the dramatic price rise that is currently taking place in the free market. The Government, of course, is pleased for the gold producers to see that rise take place. The honourable member for Kalgoorlie complained about the free market price and speculated on what would happen if that price fell dramatically. However, it must be said that it is very hard to see any sign of that happening at present.

The honourable member went on to make a number of references to the industry in his electorate. I think it is only fair to say that Kalgoorlie gold mines have congratulated the Government on its amendments, as has the Western Australian industry generally. The industry seems to take a much kinder view of the amendments than does the honourable member for Kalgoorlie. This revision should in part achieve the Government's objective and aim of keeping the Kalgoorlie gold producers going until the nickel producers can be phased in.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Message from Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.

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