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Thursday, 1 September 1921

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) . - I wish briefly to indorse the remarks which have been made by Senator Pratten. I do not understand the action of the Government in proposing a reduction of these duties which must kill a good local industry, and a key industry at that. When we are at war, of what use will it be to us to have men, guns, rifles, and a Navy, if we cannot obtain here the explosives which we must use ? The industry in Australia is being carried on with white labour, those in charge of it are treating their employees well, and have spent their money in securing an up-to-date plant, and they are competing against explosives made by black labour in South Africa. The company manufacturing explosives here is a very large employer of labour. It must treat its employees well, or we should not have had so many letters from them asking us to do what we can to prevent the destruction of this industry. I shall not speak at length upon the matter, because I believe that honorable senators must recognise the fairness of Senator Pratten's request. Compared with other duties agreed to, those proposed by Senator Pratten are very moderate. If the industry is not given the protection of the duties originally proposed by the Government, the local factory must be closed, people will be thrown out of employment, and if we should be at war our guns, rifles, Navy, and soldiers will be of no use to us.

Senator Lynch - Does the honorable senator propose to say anything about the family relationship of the local factory with companies manufacturing explosives elsewhere ?

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - We know t that every concern manufacturing explosives is more or less in a Combine, but in the case of the local factory, we have, at any rate, the advantage of its establishment in our own country, and its employment of our own people.

Senator Bolton - We have control of it.

Senator Lynch - We cannot control its prices.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - We can control the local factory. It is employing our own people. If we do not give local manufacturers the very moderate protection which Senator Pratten has proposed, the local establishment must close, and we must then be dependent on other countries for the explosives to load the rifles which are being made at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. What is the use of an army and compulsory training, if we have not within our own borders the means to manufacture explosives?

Senator Pearce - The Army does not use these kinds of explosives. They use quite a different kind.

Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow - They use cordite.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - I am told by Senator Glasgow that our Army does use these explosives.

Senator Pearce - Dynamite?

Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow - We use cordite.

Senator Pearce - That is so; but it is not made at the factory which has been referred to. It is made at our own factory.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - There is no reason why cordite should not be made at the factory which has been referred to. At any rate, we are speaking of an Australian industry, and I thought it was the policy of the Government to encourage the employment of our people in manufactures to meet Australian requirements. I strongly urge the Minister to accept the moderate duty proposed by Senator Pratten.

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