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Wednesday, 24 November 1971
Page: 3559

Mr HALLETT (Canning) - The problem raised by the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) has several parts to it. This problem was brought about originally by the fixed price of gold and the increased cost of producing that gold. I believe a gold mining subsidy was first introduced to counter this initial aspect of the problem. Since that time there has been tremendous mining development in many places in the Commonwealth, particularly in Western Australia. Some of this development has been in the Kalgoorlie area. I instance the nickel development at Kambalda. As the costs of mining gold have risen in that area the problem has become more acute. As previous speakers have mentioned, it was thought that the mining development around this goldmining area would in fact make employment available for those families which were being phased out of the goldmining industry. However, circumstances have changed somewhat in more recent years. As a result of the imposition by the United States of America of a 10 per cent surcharge and the general slow down in world trade there has been a considerable change in developments in the mineral world which has affected the future of mining in not only Western Australia but also other parts of the world.

As I see it, this situation has to be looked at in the light of present circumstances. I come down on the point that the Government has said that it is going to reassess its views of the situation on the basis of the case put forward by the goldmining industry and people involved in this field. T take it that this reassessment will be made on the circumstances as they exist at present. These circumstances are changing day by day. 1 think it is important for a reassessment to be made at this point of time in order to level out the thinking about what is in fact taking place at the moment in not only this gold fields town itself but also in the whole field of mining. I think the mining field must be taken as a whole. It is obvious that the goldmining industry is going to be phased out. I believe that the people in this industry recognise this. As the Government has said, it is in fact carrying out a reassessment of the situation in this industry at the present time. This reassessment is necessary because the circumstances have changed considerably over recent months.

It was expected of course, that the people phased out of employment in the various goldmining areas would be in fact taken up within the other areas of mining in Western Australia. It .is important to remember that people who are trained in the mining industry and who are lost to the industry are difficult to replace. I am sure that the Government will take into consideration the possibility of a slackening off in the development of the nickel industry. Kalgoorlie, which is the major centre of the goldmining industry in Western Australia, has been on the map of this country for a long time. It has produced a large quantity of gold. Figures on this aspect have always been . available. They have been published in the report mentioned by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) that was put out by the President of the Chamber of Mines of Western Australia, Mr Brodie-Hall. These figures have been well tabulated. The goldmining industry has contributed over a number of years to this country's wellbeing. This sort of changing scene in Australia at the moment is to be found in not only the mining areas but also in many other areas - for example, the agricultural area and the industrial area. It is therefore necessary to look at this matter on a broad basis across the whole of Australia to see where we are in fact going.

A tremendous amount of private capital has been invested in the mining field in Western Australia. There are people who say that nothing is being done about decentralisation in Australia. I would like those people to take a trip to Western Australia and see just what is being done about decentralisation. Whole new towns have been developed in various parts of that State. Private industry has spent tremendous sums of money-it has been assisted by government, of course - in the development of many centres throughout Western Australia. It is in this light that one must look at the future of Kalgoorlie and where it fits into the total mining scene in Western Australia. I believe that, in the light of the circumstances prevailing in Western Australia at this time, the Government should, in the assessment it is undertaking, bring to the fore the facts as they exist at the present time. Nobody, however good he may be, can look into the future and define exactly what is going to happen. But information is of course available to the Government today of developments around the world, such as currency developments, manufacturing developments and so on, which should enable it to assess to some extent what the future holds - the near future, at least - for the mining industries in general in conjunction with the other industries in Australia. The Government should then be able to assess the overall effect the present situation will have on not only Kalgoorlie as a city, as I think it is, but also the people who reside therein, who are also in my book important. I believe that when that assessment is made and the Government comes to a conclusion about the overall situation as it affects the total mining situation the people affected no doubt will be taken into consideration.

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