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Thursday, 1 September 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - The higher duties proposed upon explosives used in coal mining, compared with those used for gold mining, and other metalliferous mining are explained by the fact that at present ammonia nitrate, which is used in the manufacture of explosives, is imported, and is dutiable at 15 per cent. If, under a departmental by-law, this commodity were admitted free for the manufacture of explosives, I should be prepared to propose that the duties on both classes of explosives should be the same. I make this explanation in reply to Senator Duncan. I hope the Committee will realize that my request represents the irreducible minimum. I have not attempted to ask for an increased duty in respect of the whole of the 1,800 tons of mining explosives annually used in the Commonwealth, but have confined my request to those used in coal mining. I might readily have asked that the same duties be imposed in respect of all classes of explosives, but I am trying to meet the position and at the same time to preserve the local industry. As to the point raised by Senator Gardiner with respect to the safety of human life, I am informed that tests made quite recently by the British Government have proved the locally-made explosives to be equal to any of those which are imported.

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