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Thursday, 1 September 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - It is not my intention to enter upon a lengthy discussion of this matter. In my view, it is removed from the sphere of discussion. It is a question of life or death to miners, and not a question of whether we should establish a local industry in competition with foreign manufacturers of this article. I went home last Friday with the intention not to continue to attend the present sittings of the Senate, but the importance of this one item induced me to come back. I have been told on the most reliable authority that in coal mines, occasionally, the fall of one piece of coal develops gas, and if, by the use of inferior explosive, the gas becomes ignited, it means death to the miners.

Senator Henderson - That is a positive fact.

Senator GARDINER - If that be so, the Committee should get away from the question of the desirability of establishing an industry here, and should direct its attention solely to the question of the life or death of our miners. So convinced are the- miners themselves that that is the real question at issue that I am content to put their simple statement before honorable senators. Are we going to experiment with their lives?

Senator Plain - Is the locallymanufactured article faulty?

Senator Henderson - The imported article is the only one that is looked upon a3 safe.'

Senator GARDINER - That is the opinion of a practical coal miner. I am putting the miners' view. I am not arguing the question,' because I decline to balance the establishment of an industry against the lives of thousands of miners. I have no more to say. I am satisfied that if a calamity should one day occur, and it is brought home to honorable senators that they are responsible for the death of a number of miners, they will regret their action only once, and that will be for the term of their natural lives.

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