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Wednesday, 9 July 1930


Senator OGDEN (Tasmania) - I am not prepared to subscribe to the doctrine expounded by Senator Dunn that because one State receives assistance we should support propositions brought forward for giving assistance to other States. I know the risk involved in making advances to mining companies. The usual result is that the State is left to carry the baby. The banks have advanced certain sums to the Wiluna Gold Mines on the guarantee of the State, and now the Commonwealth has been asked to accept the responsibility assumed by the State. If the company defaults, the Federal Government will be responsible for meeting the obligation to the banks. It is an entirely new departure. We are branching out in another form of assistance to an industry which the Commonwealth has not the proper machinery to investigate, and, therefore, must depend entirely on investigations made by State officials. I should like to know if the reports quoted by Senator Pearce were made prior to the intimation by the Federal Government that it was willing to enter into this agreement.


Senator Sir George Pearce - Two reports were furnished by Mr. Montgomery, the State mining engineer, one before and the other after the Commonwealth came into the matter.


Senator OGDEN - It is all very well for a State official to make reports when the responsibility is not resting on the State.


Senator E B Johnston - The State Government decided to build 115 miles of railway on the strength of those reports.


Senator OGDEN - That may be so, but it does not justify the Commonwealth rushing into the matter if it does not seem to be a sound proposition. I have no doubt that there are reports as to the quantity of ore and the assay value of the ore, but the real security the Commonwealth will have is the fact that the company can extract the value from the ore body. Are we satisfied that the process is all right? It is useless to make comparisons with the Lake View mine and other mines which, to a large extent, are free milling propositions.


Senator Sir George Pearce - The Kalgoorlie mines are sulphide propositions.


Senator OGDEN - Sulphide ore is always refractory and difficult to deal with. I should like to be satisfied thai the process gives the mine a fair possibility of success, and that we are not merely guessing. At any rate, the bank was not prepared to take the responsibility and thrust it on to the State Government.


Senator Guthrie - And now it has been thrust on. to the Commonwealth Government.


Senator Sir George Pearce - The report of the State Mining Engineer deals with the matter of the treatment of the ore.


Senator OGDEN - I have not read it. The only security the Commonwealth has for the repayment of the advance is that the process will satisfactorily solve the problem of dealing with this particular ore body. An 8 dwt. proposition is a pretty low one. There are very few mines in the world which are profitably working at loss than S dwts. It is done in South Africa on 6 dwt. ore, but there black labour "is em ployed.


Senator Sir George Pearce - -In Canada, with white labour, low grade ore is made to pay.


Senator OGDEN - In Canada, it may be free milling ore, which is quite u different proposition from refractory ore, such as the sulphides of Wiluna. I do not want it to appear that I am opposing the bill merely for the sake of factious opposition. My opposition is due to the fact that I dread the Commonwealth entering into this new field which will" only lead to encouraging another body of men to approach the Federal Treasurer for assistance. There are gold-mines in Queensland and Tasmania; there are dozens of them all over the country, and the people who are working them would very readily come along and seek assistance from the Federal Government if they could get it. I cannot support the bill, because it is setting up a dangerous precedent and will mean that the Commonwealth is launching out upon an expenditure which should be a State responsibility. In view of the financial statement just presented, I cannot see that it is desirable that we should embark, at the present time, upon an expenditure of £300,000 on a purely speculative undertaking.







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