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Thursday, 1 September 1921

Senator LYNCH ("Western Australia) . - It has been stated in the course of the debate, and most recently .by Senator Duncan, that some honorable senators are unaware that any representative opinion has been expressed on behalf of the coal -miners of this country against the imposition of a duty on explosives.

Senator Duncan - No. Against the use of the locally-manufactured explosives.

Senator LYNCH - It is appropriate to a discussion of this subject that I should quote the following expression of opinion by the New South Wales Coal and Shale Miners Association, which was read in the House of Representatives by Mr. Charlton : -

You will, therefore, see that ii the Tariff becomes operative as set out, the price of explosives imported will immediately increase, and as the miner has to purchase the explosive it will affect him and not the coal owners. Consequently, the miner is not disposed to bear the increase.

Another point we desire to impress is the fact that if the Tariff is accepted it will bc regarded as a prohibitive clause, and obviate competition, in which case the miner will beleft to the Explosive Combine.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Do -they say anything about the local article being dangerous 1

Senator LYNCH - I am showing the effect of a duty on' explosives on the economic position of coal-miners. They say that it will put their interests into the hands of a Combine. They say, further -

We want cheap explosives lor the purpose of developing our mineral resources, and wo alao desire to extend a preference to every bond fide industry conducted in the United Kingdom.

That communication was signed by J. M. Baddeley, E. Aubin, and A. 0. Willis, president, vice-president, and secretary of the Australasian Coal and Shale Employees Federation respectively.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That statement is on the question of costs.

Senator LYNCH - The honorable senator dealt with that phase of the question himself, and expressed some doubt as to whether the coal-miner would have to bear any share of the burden. I put the view expressed by practical miners on that point against that of Senator Thomas. Another statement which has been made is that the local article is used in mines in Western Australia.

Senator Duncan - They use Nobel's explosive almost entirely.

Senator LYNCH - rI understood the honorable senator to say that they used the locally-manufactured article.

Senator Duncan - That is Nobel's explosive.

Senator LYNCH - Here is a contradiction of that statement by the Chamber of Mines in Western Australia, which was read in the House of Representatives by Mr. Gregory - .

Mr. Brown,in hia letter to the Argus on 10th May, states that his company expended capital during the war "in order to keep Australia supplied with explosives at a time when sufficient supply could not be procured from abroad." Again, so far as Western Australia is concerned, there is no truth in this statement or implication that sufficient supplies could not be obtained from abroad during the war. The Imperial authorities did everything possible in the direction of keeping our industry supplied with explosives during the war ' period, and only on one occasion did the English supply fail, and then we had no difficulty in obtaining supplies from South Africa. No Victorian explosives have been used by the Western Australian mines, and those connected with the industry are to be taxed to support a secondary industry that is of no benefit to them.

Yet the statement was made by Senators Wilson and Duncan that ' the locallymanufactured article is exclusively used in Western Australian mines.

Senator Wilson - I repeat the statement.

Senator LYNCH - The communication I have just quoted is signed by J. W. Anderton, secretary of the Western Australian Chamber of Mines. I have here a wire received from Mr. Hamilton, the chairman of the Chamber of Mines in Kalgoorlie; and in view of the fact that Western Australia produces six times as much gold as Victoria, which is the next highest on the list in Australia, its interests are entitled to some consideration. The wire reads -

Chamber, in interests of mining companies, strongly urges all explosives should be admitted duty free.

That wire was sent to me this afternoon, and it discloses the opinion of the organization entitled to express an opinion on behalf of the mining industry in Western Australia.

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