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Thursday, 1 September 1921

Senator WILSON (South Australia) . - I do not wish to delay the Committee, but I wish to correct an impression which a statement of mine conveyed to Senator Lynch, to the effect that the article manufactured in the Victorian factory is used solely in Western Australia. I find that my statement was not correct. I like a fight as well as anybody; but when I find that because of a misunderstanding I have made a mistake, I take the first opportunity to correct it. Before the adjournment for dinner some honorable senators asked what tests are made to insure the standardization of locallymanufactured explosives in the interest of the safety of those who use them. I am informed that all the explosives made in Victoria are under the direct supervision of the inspector of explosives, and their manufacture is most carefully guarded in every shape and form.

Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow - It is the same in Queensland.

Senator WILSON - As to the statement that imported explosives are preferred by metalliferous miners, I am informed that this preference is due only to the fact that the explosvies of South African manufacture are sold at prices below those at which the

Australian company can produce, and that more than 50 per cent, of the explosives used in coal mining here are of Australian manufacture, and are purchased at prices ranging from 10 per cent, to 20 per cent, above those ruling for South African explosives. That speaks for itself.

Senator Drake-Brockman - It is a very poor argument.

Senator WILSON - The honorable senator and I have been standing together very well on Tariff questions, but on this occasion we find ourselves ranged in opposing camps., I think he will admit that if the men who use explosives in our coal mines, and whose lives are at stake, buy the locally-manufactured article, that is a conclusive argument as to its safety. I have referred already to the tests to which the Australian product has been submitted. Samples were sent to England, and the reply of the testing authorities of the British Government was that its use would be permitted in any of the coal mines there, and that it was second to none. It is said that Nobel Limited have an active part in the local industry. I would point out that the explosives that are imported are to a very large extent manufactured by that company. I do not wish to discredit the remarks made by Senator Henderson, but the explosives used when he was mining are not in use to-day.

Senator Henderson - That is not so.

Senator WILSON - I may be wrong, but I am informed that the explosives that are used in mining to-day were not manufactured when the. honorable senator worked in the mines.

Senator Henderson - Nonsense !

Senator WILSON - I am dealing with this question from a commercial point of view, but with due regard to the interests of the men who use explosives. In view of the fact that the Australian-made explosives have been declared by the British authorities to be fit for use in the coal mines of Great Britain, I fail to understand why any objection should be offered to their use here. The local company is a reputable one, and the information supplied by it in support of its product is public property. No company of any repute would lend itself to misleading statements. Taking into account the work that the local industry is doing, and the employment it is providing, I think that, apart altogether from the question of the black labour employed in making explosives abroad, a good case has been made out for the protection of the Australian product.

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