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Thursday, 1 September 1921

Senator WILSON (South Australia) . - Several honorable senators have said that they have had much experience in the use of explosives. Although I have to confess a lack of personal experience in the handling of explosives, I pay every year for a, considerable quantity, and have heard no complaints whatever with regard to the explosives made in Australia. So far as my inquiries go, every one seems to. be satisfied with them. I suppose that I am using a good deal more explosives of Australian manufacture than all other honorable senators put together.

Senator Gardiner - Where ?

Senator WILSON - In South Australia. The honorable senator is not going to catch me that way. I intend to deal with the coal question before I finish, not dodge it. Let me remind my honorable friend that, if my memory is not faulty, I heard him, two or three days ago, speak in the most severe terms of these millionaire coal-owners at Newcastle and elsewhere, and that this is an Australian industry which gives us a chance to extract some revenue from them.

Senator Gardiner - I think you forget that the miner has to find his own explosives.

Senator WILSON - But the other fellow pays, either directly or indirectly. In very ' few instances is the coal-miner required to find the whole of his own explosives. " The position is much like that of the candles, about which we heard so much a week or two ago.

Senator de Largie - No, it is not.

Senator WILSON - The honorable senator will have an opportunity of speaking a little later on. In practice, the owner pays, either directly or indirectly, for the explosives.

Senator de Largie - Not in coalmining.

Senator WILSON - Yes, or in any other similar industry. It is absurd to try and side-track the issue in this way. What section has had its two hands on the throat of the community as- the coal miners have during the last five or six years ? They have been prepared ta hang up every other industry whenever it suited them, and yet, when it is a question of imposing a duty upon explosives for the purpose of encouraging an Australian industry, it is a case of "hands off. We nave to think of the coal miner." .

Senator Gardiner - You will certainly punish them by your attitude.

Senator WILSON - But this is merely a question of tests. Senator Gardiner, who is a fair debater, must know surely that tests of a most stringent nature, made, in the Old Country, have demonstrated that explosives made in Australia can be used with' perfect safety in any mine in the world. This information is supplied to honorable senators from a most authoritative source. Nobels, in the Mother Country, produce an article that is in demand the world over; and is it too much to expect that the same firm, under the improved industrial conditions obtaining in Australia, cannot accomplish the same results in the Commonwealth? Why should there be this wild howl from the coal miners that this duty must not be imposed ? Senator Pearce says that they did not use this class of powder during the war. Perhaps not. But if we were at war to-morrow he would be very' glad to have the machinery which this firm employ in the Australian industry, available for defence purposes.

Senator Pearce - The factory, yes.

Senator WILSON - Unless we encourage the development of the industry by Protective duties, how can we expect; to have a well-equipped factory available during war time ? We have most definite information that thoroughly exhaustive tests have proved to the satisfaction of the authorities at Home that the explosives made in Australia are quite reliable. I know the occupation of a miner is not a happy one, and if I thought that the Australian-made explosives would expose him to any risk, I certainly would not vote for the item under discussion.

Senator Gardiner - The miners think it will.

Senator WILSON - I have spoken to several miners during the last fortnight, and they are of a different opinion. There is not another industry in Australia that can so well afford to meet an impost of this nature as mining.

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