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Tuesday, 23 November 1971
Page: 3455

Mr COLLARD (KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I address a question to the Prime Minister. Has it been estimated that early cessation of gold produc tion in Western Australia will cause a population drop of at least 25 per cent over the area concerned? Has the Prime Minister recently received numerous requests to increase the assistance to the gold mining industry to ensure its continuation and to prevent the large scale unemployment which must otherwise occur? Have the local authorities of both Kalgoorlie and Boulder informed the Prime Minister that they will fly a deputation to Canberra to present to him and his Ministers their reasons why an increase in the gold subsidy is required so urgently? Is the Prime Minister aware that the cost of sending that deputation would be approximately $2,000? Finally, docs the Prime Minster now fully recognise the grave concern with which the councils and the people view the situation? If so, can he now tell the House what his intentions are regarding the matter? He will recall that some 3 months ago he told the House that in view of the changing circumstances in the nickel industry . he would reconsider the question of providing further assistance.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! Before I call the Prime Minister I should like to draw the attention of honourable members to the fact that this afternoon we have had a number of questions which have been extremely long. I think that honourable members will have to give closer attention to the spirit of the Standing Orders than they have done this afternoon. I have asked repeatedly that questions be short, but this afternoon honourable members have excelled themselves. Questions are growing longer and longer and I suggest that honourable members co-operate with the Chair in this matter.

Mr McMAHON - Earlier in the afternoon I drew attention to the fact that under standing order 142 it was appropriate that questions should be directed to the Minister responsible for that part of the administration of government to which the question related. Therefore, this question should have been directed to my colleague the Treasurer or to the Minister for National Development. If the honourable member cares to put the question on the notice paper I will direct it to the attention of the responsible Minister.

Mr Collard - I rise to order. Some time ago, Mr Speaker, you ruled that a question should be answered by the appropriate

Minister. If that is so, my question should have been answered by the appropriate Minister, perhaps the Treasurer, if the Prime Minister was unable to answer it.

Mr SPEAKER -I call upon the Treasurer to answer it.

Mr SNEDDEN (BRUCE, VICTORIA) (Treasurer) - The honourable gentleman asked me a question in very similar terms during the last sitting week. I then told him that the matter was being reviewed in the light of changed circumstances. We are now in the course of that review. 1 have received letters from honourable senators of my own Party from Western Australia, the honourable gentleman and a gentleman named Mr Brodie Hall who. if my recollection is correct, is Chairman of the Chamber of Mines in Kalgoorlie. I have also had a letter from the Town Clerk of Kalgoorlie, but please do not hold me precisely to the names of the people who have written the letters.

Mr Morrison - Yes, carry on.

Mr SNEDDEN - I am glad that I can answer this question in such a happy atmosphere. However, the honourable member for Kalgoorlie does not regard it in quite that way. I understand full . well his concern and will proceed with the examination. When I get the opportunity to complete il. I will take it to the Government and will then inform all parties who have made requests to me of the outcome.

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