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Friday, 18 November 1921

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - There is a strong reason why the Committee should make a stand on this item. Some of the elements used in the manufacture of explosives h ave to be imported, and they are dutiable at15 per cent. I refer to nitrate of ammonia, which is used in the manufacture, particularly, of explosives for coal-mining. If we are to reduce the duty on the finished article whilst the duty on the elements used in its manufacture is retained, the effect will be to give a bonus to outside manufacturers of explosives. Only adults are employed in the local manufacture of explosives, and they receive an average wage of £4 5s. 6d. per week, as against an average wage of £1 per week paid in the industry in. South. Africa.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Where black labour is employed in the manufacture of explosives.

Senator SENIOR - That is so. Another point which is worthy of consideration is that the manufacture of explosives involves a very large consumption of cool. Two and a half tons of coal are consumed in the manufacture of lton of explosives, and therefore the local manufacture of this article must give considerable employment to local coal-miners.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What impost would the honorable senator place on the coal-miners who have to get the coal used in the manufacture of this article?

Senator SENIOR - The manufacture of explosives locally would provide coalminers with work.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - They would have to work so much longer and harder to enable them to pay the duty which the honorable senator would impose on explosives.

Senator SENIOR - The Minister's argument really is that if we permit the admission of explosives manufactured by black labour, it will be more beneficial for coal-miners, since, as a result, they will be unemployed. I have heard it said that it is unsafe to use explosives manufactured in Australia, but I have seen original certificates stating that locallymade explosives have been tested in Great Britain and found to be thoroughly trustworthy. The factory here is capable of supplying Australia's present needs. It would be wise in time of peace to have this article made here, because the industry is tending to become a key one.

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