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Friday, 18 November 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - This is one of those little, big things which the Senate should not allow to pass. Notwithstanding all that has been said in this Chamber as to the quality of Australian marble, we must fall hack upon our own personal experiences. Can any honorable senator say that we have in Australia any marble equal in quality to the Carrara marble for statuary purposes? The answer is No. If we consult any person in the trade we shall be told over and over again that up to date at all events, no Australian marble to compare with the Italian product has been found.

Senator Senior - It has been found. Here is a sample.

Senator LYNCH - How much is there of this product in South Australia?

Senator Senior - Millions of tons.

Senator LYNCH - We have the inex pert evidence of Senator Senior, but no other evidence, that South Australia can produce a marble suitable for statuary purposes. This sample is full of black, pencil-like seams. Marble has been free hitherto,and we should not now impose any duties upon it. We have only to recall the evidence given before Commission after Commission on this question to realize that so far we have nothing to compare with the Italian product. It is admitted that for general purposes the Australian marble is very good indeed, but for statuary and works of art designed to elevate the tastes of the people there is nothing to compare with Carrara marble. Take Australia House. Is there any marble in that building equal in quality to Carrara ? There is every variety, it is true - red, black, and speckled, and all the rest of it, but nothing to compare in beauty with Carrara. There is only one place in the world where this beautiful, pure white marble is found, and that is Italy. Let us face the facts. We must admit that Aus tralia has not to date produced a marble suitable for statuary purposes.

Senator Earle - There is the sample before your eyes. What more do you want?

Senator LYNCH - I have consulted men in the business, who certainly know more about the quality of marble than Senator Earle does, and they all say we have not the finer white marble in Australia. Nevertheless, the Government want to compel our people to make statuary out of such materials as we have. It is quite true that we can make statuary out of mud or granite, or any substance that -will hold together, but for the statuary that will appeal to the finer tastes of the people, to the aesthetic side of their natures, we must have Carrara marble. Is there one piece of statuary made from Australian marble in this building ? We want to tear the cobwebs from our eyes in this matter, and get away from this insane doctrine of shutting out the best that the world can produce in the belief that by encouraging the use of some Australian product we are doing something to develop the artistic tastes of the people.

Senator Wilson - Well, I hope it will be a long time before we look upon your statue !

Senator LYNCH - My work is my statue. I have no wish to be perpetuated in marble. Talk about Augustus finding Rome made of bricks and leaving it in marble ! I hope to be able to say that I found this Senate peopled by politicians and left it peopled by statesmen. In all seriousness, we should make a definite stand on this matter. Let us realize that we have not in Australia, up to date at all events, found pure white marble to equal in beauty the Carrara product.

Senator Earle - But the material is here.

Senator LYNCH - I refer the honorable senator to any sculptor, and I challenge him to prove that there is. I have not done any globe-trotting since I have been in this country, because I have been too busy trying to earn an honest living, but I ask any globe-trotting honorable senators to say if there is any marble in Australia House, London, to compare with Carrara. The answer is No. Why, then, do we circumscribe our position and hinder the work of our sculptors by encouraging the use of the inferior product when there is available to us this pure and rare product from Italy. Senator SENIOR (South Australia) [11.45]. - Senator Lynch refused to examine the specimens of marble I have placed before the Committee. He could not distinguish between a stain and a lead pencil mark, so superficial was his gaze. He condemned the stone as being not equal in whiteness to Carrara marble, because of a lead pencil stain. He asked whether there was a statue in Australia made of Australian marble. I replied, " Yes." What I am saying is supported by the marble workers in Adelaide, who inform me that marble from Italy is shipped as ballast and enters into competition with Australian marble. A large quantity of marble has been sent to Australia House from Angaston, South Australia, and it is there to-day. At Macclesfield, in South Australia, there is a marble equal in whiteness to Carrara marble, and very nearly as fine in texture. I venture to say that it is equal, for general statuary purposes, to Carrara marble. To allow the Carrara marble to come in for statuary purposes will also mean admitting it for commercial purposes. It is not possible to keep track of a piece of marble after it has entered this * country.

Senator Keating - Nonsense! The Department keeps track of things much more difficult to follow than marble.

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