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On 27 January 1931, Hyman Herman was appointed as Royal Commissioner on the Coal Mining Industry of Western Australia.
The Royal Commission's terms of reference were to inquire into and report upon:
1a) The complaints (if any) of unjust treatment of the Griffin Coal Mining Company, Limited, made by such Company against the Government Railways Department in relation to the coal produced by the said Company;
1b) The relative calorific and fire-box values of the coal produced by the Griffin Coal Mining Company, Limited, as compared with coal produced by other companies and persons from the Collie Coal Mining Field and supplied to the Government Railways Department;
2a) The methods of working on the coal mining fields in Western Australia, and in particular the reasons and causes governing the pit-mouth price of the coal produced;
2b) The incidence of such pit-mouth price of coal on the railways of Western Australia, and, in particular, whether the present system followed by the Government Rialways Department for obtaining coal from the said coal mining fields imposes an added burden on the said railways;
2c) The distribution of orders for coal required by the Government Railways Department and the marketing and the use of the coal supplied pursuant to such orders;
3a) Whether the use of Western Australian native coal in pulverised form is economic, and, if so, what class of plant is best adapted to such use;
3b) Generally in relation to any other matters which the Royal Commission deem relevant to the production, marketing, and use of Western Australian native coal.
A report on items 1a) and 1b) was submitted on 20 February 1931 before Herman was required to return to Victoria to attend to other matters. On his return to Perth in July 1931, an Industrial Board had been appointed by the State Arbitration Court to deal with an application by the Amalgamated Collieries of W.A., Ltd, for a new award covering the whole of the coal mining industry at Collie. As item 2 of the Commission's terms of reference was considered to duplicate much of ther work to be undertaken by the Industrial Board, the Royal Commission's further investigations were deferred until the termination of the Arbitration Court proceedings. Due to other matters, Herman was not able to return to Perth again until October 1932 to resume his investigations. A report on the remaining terms of reference was submitted on 9 January 1933.