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Friday, 18 November 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South South Wales) . - I was very much interested in the exhibits of South Australian marble produced by Senator Senior, and I think they should be laid on the table of the Senate. The material appears to me to be too quartzlike and too brittle for work of a fine character. What would honorable senators think if I produced a. miniature piece of ice and called it an Australian diamond? I believe some would say that it was an excellent sample, and I believe it would be just as good a specimen of a diamond as that submitted by Senator Senior is of first class marble. Every reputable firm in Australia using Carrara marble has notified honorable senators that they desire to have the duty removed, because they cannot obtain in Australia the material they require. I have in my office statements from every firm in Australia - including those in New South. Wales which I know something about- that the Australian marble is unsuitable for statuary purposes. Who is to be the judge? Is it those who have to work the material, or men such as Senator Wilson, who own a quarry?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is not new for some persons to decry Australian products.

Senator GARDINER - -That may have been the policy years ago, but that time has passed.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That does not appear to be so from the tone of the debate.

Senator GARDINER - I do not think that is the general desire of Australians ; but when it is a question of the opinion of experts as against that of laymen, surely we should take some notice of those who are able to judge.

Senator Crawford - How many sculptors are there in Australia?

Senator GARDINER - There are many monumental works, and in some of these there are first-class sculptors. If South Australia can produce marble equal to the best imported, why has it not been used in this building, and placed side by side with the statuary made of imported marble? I do not profess to be an expert, but I never saw anything more quartzlike than the samples in the possession of Senator Senior. The material appears to be too brittle, and of such a character that it would chip at, perhaps, the most critical time.

Senator Senior - A statue of Robert Burns erected in Adelaide was made from Australian marble obtained at Angaston.

Senator GARDINER - That is a most excellent way in which to use an Australian product.

Senator Senior - The acid test has been applied, which proves conclusively that it is not quartz.

Senator GARDINER - It does not appear to me to be suitable for fine work, and would probably develop flaws when least expected. There appears to be a desire to impose duties to encourage industries; but we are following the unsound, and, if I may be permitted to say, the unseemly practice of each State ' ' barracking " for its own products.

Senator Senior - I am prepared to encourage the New South Wales industry.

Senator GARDINER - The qualityof New South Wales marble is well known, because it is used in many of our buildings for staircases, panelling, and other work, but I do not claim that it is equal to the imported article for statuary purposes. I believe that the output of New South Wales is greater than that of all the other States combined, and its quality is magnificent; but I am not going to say that it is suitable for purposes other than those I have mentioned. I join with Senator Lynch in his desire to get the best at the cheapest price, and I do not wish to assist in placing the best beyond the reach of those who have to use it. Why should not students be able to practice on, and become acquainted with the various textures of, all marbles used in monumental work so that they will be able to produce work equal to that of the fine old artists ?

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