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MINING LEGISLATION, Issue 15640, 3 November 1914
Wihon the Houbo of Repreaontaiivos asyesterday aftomoon t'ho debate on the Minina Bill was continued. Sir J. Q. Ward expressed the cpmn>n that the mining industry wiu being shabbily treated, and that it deserved a oraai deal more than it was receiving. The impositions ijnpcacd on those invesxiog in mining ought, lor instance, to be reviewed, and the treatment of live nion was capable of-great improvement, iho information gathered by the Commission set up by the Liberal Government in 1911 ' had been of materia) ‘help to the Govornjuent in framing the measure. Mr Scott condemned tho Bill. Mr Colvin condemned tho poor pay given to miners and tho difficulty in getting increases. Sir G. M. Thomson supported tho clause froviding that associates ol the Otago ckodi of Mines ahonM receive mine managers' certificates after tiuee years’ work Underground, as against live years by one not having this theoretical training, Iho clause was a conccision to higher education and an encoiuagenient to those who studied the sclent itic side of tho mining industrv. . Mr Webb cliargei iiio Government with delaving this legislation at tho instigation of the mine-owners Ho condemned tho concession to Otago students. ■ In reply, tho Minister or Maws (Hon. W. Fraser) claimed to bo in sympathy with tho miners, but it was unreasonable to ask mine-owners to pay compensation without a medical examination. _Ho favored tho establishment of a pension fund for the miners. Ho did not propose to occupy his full half-hour in discussing tho Bill, but simply urged that it would ho in the interest of tho miners to pass the measure. The House then wont into committee on
the Bill. , _ , At clause 5 Mi G. M. Thomson moved an amendment to provido that tho holder* of the degree of associate of tho Otago School of Mines shall qualify foi a mine manager’s certificate after three years. — Iho House divided on the amendment, which was carried by 23 votes to 21. The intendment was warmly opposed by Messrs Poland. Webb, Veitch, Soddon, Isilt, and M’Kenzie. Clause 6, conferring mine managers certificates on the graduates of the Otago School of Mines after four years’ practical work underground, was strenuously opposed at the evening sitting by the representatives of tho mining districts, tint on a division was carried by 51 to 18. Clause 15 was amended on the motion of Mr Poland, to provide that workmen’s inspectors shall be compensated by ino owners if they meet with an accident in the discharge of their duty. Mr Poland moved a* new clau£o proyiding that in the case of accident a miner shall be entitled to the same amount of compensation as he would have been entitled to under the Workers’ Compensation Act, 1908. In the case of his dying of miners’ disease Ins family shall be entitled to the same compensation as would have been paid under chat Act.—Dio Minister opposed the clause, and said the properway to deal with these cases was by way of pension, and this ho_ was prepared to do next session.—On a division the amendment was rejected by 27 votos to 24. The Bill was reported as amended, read a third time, and passed. COAL JUNES BILL. The Minister moved tho second reading of the Goal Minos Bill, which, he eaid. was founded on tho recommendations of the Mining Commission, and prepared by him in 1912. He denied that he had held the Bill back then owing to pressure put upon him by the coal mine owners. They had waited - on him, but had received very littlo comfort from him. He told them that the day had gone when the- comfort and safety of the men could he left entirely to the companies, and the Bill was going through. That was the last he saw of those gentlemen. Mr Fraser declared that the Government were in no way responsible for the Huntly disaster. It was grossly unfair to say that the Bill would net have been brought down had not the* Huntly disaster occurred Ho thought ha had given ample power to make all the necessary provisions tor safetr. Speaking of tho suggestion that stops should he taken against Mr Fletcher, tho 'Minister said the matter had been placed before the Crown Law officers, and upon their advice steps would be taken. Mr Wilford criticised the delay in bringing down the Bill, and said that if the measure had been brought down in 1512, as promised, the- disaster could not have occurred at Huntly Ho contended that with evidence of tho dangerous nature of the mines no steps had been taken to institute precautionary measures. While ha did nob say the Ministry wore criminally responsible for the disaster, he did say that if they had not delayed bringing down tlio Bill in 1913 tho disaster wotud have been averted. Ho did not charge tho Government with tho responsibility of the accident, hut with negligence. Mr Russell also charged the Government with negligence in regard to the Huntly
disaster. Was it proper that important Hills dealing with tho lives of the tieoplo • should bo held over until the hours of tho session? A "rave responsilvlily lay at tho door of the Oavernnv’nL in this matter. The Prime Minister said that, while he did not know arn tilin'? about mining, he eon Id not allow .some of the statements made to pass. It was a so try spevtavle to see members endeavoring to make political capital out of tho lives of fellowcitizens. Mover before had ho been Ashamed to be a member of the Xev Zoahind Parliament. The Minister of Minos had given a fair, straightforward. and honest explanation of the position, and it
was impossible I > blame him. Ho admitted that later on it was possible that
someone would bo prosecuted for manslaughter. It was owing to the delay and
obstruction by th-» Opposition that ‘he Bill was not put through ir, 1913.
The Hon. I!. Al'Ken/.ie said that accidents would always hanpeti, but it was quite possible to take precautionary measures.
Mr AVobb condemned tho Government
for not taking proper legislative action to pi event tho disaster. He made allogat ims of victimisation of workmen in the Government services which tended In prevent tho truth from being known about tho mines. Air Robertson said ho behoved that the disaster would have occurred whether tho Alining Bill had been pawed or not. Air Colvin claimed that if the Bill drafted by the .Mackenzie Onvomniviit had been put through there would have been rt> accident at Hnntly.
After discussing the Payno episode (reported in another column) the House went into committee on the Bill, which was reported with amendments.
MINING LEGISLATION, Issue 15640, 3 November 1914
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