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Wednesday, 27 October 1971
Page: 2644

Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (12:16 PM) The honourable member for Forrest (Mr Kirwan) displayed a superb lack of knowledge of the history of his own Party, otherwise he would be clearly aware that probably the greatest manipulation in the political history of this country was in the State of Queensland during the regime of the Australian Labor Party. If that claim were to be challenged at all, it would be by the 30 years during which the Labor Party held office in New South Wales, when there was complete and absolute manipulation.

Mr Cope - I rise to a point of order. The honourable gentleman is reflecting gravely upon Senator Gair, who was responsible for the situation in Queensland.

Mr ACTING SPEAKER -Order! There is no substance in the point taken.

Mr KATTER - I would like to speak on that subject on another occasion. The matter to which I want to draw some attention this morning is the situation which exists in the mining communities in the area which I represent. When I had the privilege to be chairman of the Mount Isa Shire Council it was a very small town. There were other small communities such as Blackwater, which was a whistle stop. It is now a proud town and Mount Isa is a very proud city. There has been a distinct change over the years. Once we had a drifting and unsettled population. It was almost the type of community to which people came from other areas merely to receive a pay cheque, build up a bank account and move off again. This is not the situation now. These are permanent communities. I feel that the people of these communities should enjoy the fruits of the tremendous wealth they are producing for this country and, unfortunately, for other countries.

The Federal Government should give very serious consideration to the establishment of scholarships for the sons and daughters of the workers of those communities. I know that such scholarships are provided in Queensland. I know that the companies in certain areas provide bursaries. But there is a great danger in the mining industry at the present time that with assured development there will inevitably be a lack of technical assistance. Perhaps there will not be a lack so much of geologists. I will have something to say about them on another occasion. But there will be a lack of even the people who are required to have a certain technical standard. I feel that if this matter was closely examined in these various communities - not only in my own electorate, but throughout Australia - it might be found that many people are involved.

I have in mind particularly the com.nunity at Blair Athol where we see a handful of miners who have been whittled down slowly but surely to just a small group of families. I feel that if opportunities had been offered to the sons and daughters of those people we would have had a more stable community. After all, which group of people in the world work under conditions more hazardous than those experienced by coal miners? Even in these days with great advances in safety measures, amenities and other methods whereby life has been made a little easier for these people, there is inevitably a danger in working underground, particularly with coal. Who would be more equipped and who would have the background to be trained more adequately to take on the higher positions than the sons and daughters of these second and third generation coalminers? 1 urge the Government to examine this question closely to ascertain where this shortage of technically trained people will occur in the future. I have been assured by people in the industry that this could reach a crisis point. Who would be more entitled to fill those positions than the sons and daughters of the toilers - the ordinary, average miners in these communities? I intend to go into this matter far more closely and I shall perhaps present something more constructive to the House on another occasion.

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