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Thursday, 25 August 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) .- The honorable senator will not accomplish his purpose by this means, because the effect of agreeing to his request would be that the manufacturers of white lead would still continue under the duty of 8s. per cwt., while the manufacturer of zinc white in Australia would be knocked out by the imposition of a lower rate of duty. Not a single extra ounce of zinc white, or a single ounce less of white lead would be used.

Senator Duncan - What zinc white is being manufactured in Australia?

Senator PEARCE - Zinc white is being made by the Electrolytic Zinc Works at Hobart. The local manufacture of zinc white would be injured by accepting the honorable senator's suggestion. We can best promote the use of zinc white instead of white lead, by encouraging its manufacture in Australia. If we destroyed the local manufacture of the article, there would be no one in the Commonwealth interested in its use, except importers. I have some evidenceas to the effects of white lead. I have that of Dr. Nash and Dr. Graham, who do not agree with a great deal that has been said about it, and that of the Association of Architects, in New South Wales, who combat the argument that zinc white should be used in preference to white lead.

Senator Keating - Is there not. an inquiry pending in New South Wales?

Senator PEARCE - Yes. The question of prohibiting the use of white lead is to come up before the League of Nations, and the Commonwealth Government are at the present time engaged in selecting their representative. The trade unions, the employers, and the Commonwealth Government will be separately represented, and the League will consider what action the nations as a whole shall take. It is by , no means admitted that white lead paint is harmful under proper conditions. The Architects Association has pointed out that many commodities of this kind, that used to be harmful in the old days, are' under modern conditions quite harmless. Senator Duncan will certainly not gain his ends by the means he proposes, and, therefore, I suggest that he do not press this request.

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