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Wednesday, 31 August 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) . - Sub-item b includes axe handles. I indorse every word that has been said by Senator Gardiner as to the necessity of those who make a living as bushmen being able to get their tools of trade at a reasonable price. It is a fact, also, that any man worthy of the name of a bushman knows that it is absolutely essential to use a hickory axe handle. I saw an exhibit of handles in the Queen's Hall when the Tariff was being considered in another place. So far as symmetry was concerned, they were a credit to Australian manufacturers ; but any one with any knowledge of what is required of an axe handle, on putting them to an ordinary test, would admit that, although they looked all right, they would not prove to be the serviceable article required by a bushman. A great many locally-made axe handles were used during the war period because they were much cheaper than the imported article; but I have not known any of them to be used by those who have to make their living as bushmen.

Senator Senior - The bushman made his axe handles out of blackwood or sheoak in the olden times.

Senator PAYNE - We have advanced from the conditions of the olden times. The bushman knows that it is absolutely essential that an axe handle shall have some give in it. With regard to ordinary tool handles, I am pleased to admit that the Australian manufacturer is turning out a very good line indeed. If the duties here proposed are retained, the American axe handle will still be used until we can find a timber in Australia from which axe handles equal to the imported article can be manufactured. For this reason, I move -

That the House of Representatives he requested to amend the item by inserting the following new sub-item. - " (c) Axe handles of wood, ad val.,

British, 10 per cent. ; intermediate, 15 per cent.; general, 20 per cent."

These duties will be ample, and at the same time will enable the bushman to get the axe handle he requires at a reasonable price. At present, as Senator Gardiner has pointed out, he is compelled to pay 3s. 6d. for a handle which a few years ago he could have purchased for1s. 6d. I am putting up this plea for the bushman because I know how arduous his work is, and how essential it is for his safety that he should have the very best axe handle that is obtainable.

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