HANSARD – Legislative Assembly of Western
[Thursday, 5 December 2002]
LANG HANCOCK, DEVELOPMENT OF IRON ORE INDUSTRY
Statement by Leader of the National Party
MR M.W. TRENORDEN
(Avon - Leader of the National
Party) [2.56 pm]:
It is important to recognise that 50 years have
passed since the beginning of a whole raft of developments in the Pilbara.
Although people might want to argue about how those things began, the fact
is that the Department of Mineral and Petroleum Resources has just published
a review confirming that iron ore has been Western Australia’s leading
mineral export for the past five years. It does not take much to work out
just how important the commodity has been.
Most iron ore product is exported to east Asia, and we often speak about
that destination in this place because it is where a lot of other state
product goes. Annual shipments through the port of Dampier from five major
open pit mines in the Hamersley basin alone last financial year exceeded 65
million tonnes. Those mines continue to employ
more than 2 500 people, which contributes
significantly to the Western Australian economy. Iron ore production is a
major driver of the Western Australian economy, as you would know, Mr
Speaker, as well as anyone in this place. As a person who is heavily
involved in agriculture, I recognise that
mining, particularly iron ore mining, has been a
major driver of economic activity in Western Australia. That must be
recognised. Mr Speaker, you and some other
members in this place live in important areas of the State which have been
opened up in the past 50 years. I cannot see how people can argue that that
is not the case.
Lang Hancock made a major contribution. The history of his contribution may
be open to some debate, but as the Leader of the National Party I want to
recognise his contribution. It is timely because
of the fiftieth anniversary of the 22 November 1952 so-called discovery
flight. Many people talk about the iron ore being discovered by others
before Lang Hancock discovered it, but that is not the issue; the issue is
that around that time there began the drive in not only that region but also
other regions of Western Australia that has resulted in a major benefit for
Western Australia. Lang Hancock was a major player in that drive. It is
therefore timely that we reflect on the discovery of those massive iron ore
deposits that were unlocked as a consequence of that discovery 50 years ago.
It was half a century ago that Lang Hancock’s plane flew through the gorges
in the Hamersley Ranges and he saw for the first time the massive red cliffs
of iron along the Turner River. When the wet season abated in 1953, he
landed his aircraft in the nearby spinifex fields and began collecting
samples over an area of almost 100 kilometres,
which he named Hope Downs after his first wife Hope. It took 10 years to
unlock that find. In 1962 he and Peter Wright, his old friend from Hale
School, successfully promoted the discovery to Rio
Tinto, which is now history. I assume that most members in the
Chamber know how that worked. The state laws had to be changed to allow for
the pegging of iron ore prospects, not only in this region but also in many
others. That occurred in 1961. Now half a century later more than 500
separate deposits have been discovered around the Pilbara, many of which
have nothing to do with Lang Hancock. Nevertheless, there was a time during
the history of this State when that initial discovery was important.
appreciate that there are some other matters about Lang Hancock. I met him
on a number of occasions. He was a man of initiative. He used to repair his
Several members interjected.
Mr M.W. TRENORDEN: Members should make their own speech.
The SPEAKER: Members, it is traditional that when there is restricted time
interjections do not occur. I am sure that opportunities will arise for
members to have their say if they disagree with what the speaker is saying,
but it is not appropriate to interject on a time-limited speech.
Mr M.W. TRENORDEN: I had some small contact with him, but my predecessor had
much more contact. We had admiration for the man. He had drive and tenacity,
although he showed some ruggedness in the way he dealt with some people.
Nevertheless, he was a notable character in this State. The events of 22
November 1952 and all that flowed from that should be celebrated by the