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Wednesday, 19 May 1915

Mr CHARLTON (Hunter) .- I desire to support the remarks made by the honorable member for Newcastle. A great many persons have been thrown out of employment owing to the war, and through no fault of their own, but it is very possible that a considerable additional number will be thrown out of employment because of the difficulty of obtaining permitted explosives. I asked a question on this subject to-day, because I desire that all that is possible should be done to secure the importation of the permitted explosives necessary for the winning of coal in certain mines. Honorable members generally may not know that in gaseous mines only what are termed permitted explosives may be used, and for this purpose explosives can only be passed in the Old Country. There is, therefore, no inducement for the manufacture of such explosives in Australia. The owner of one of our mines in which only permitted explosives can be used has requested the met) to try to scollop the coa] out. He is prepared to give them 3d. per ton more if they do this, but the men cannot accept his offer, because they could not make a living at the price. The Prime Minister will recognise how necessary it is in the circumstances that the Government should arrange to have supplies of permitted explosives sent to Australia for coal-mining purposes. If this is not done, a great number of men must be thrown out of employment, even in districts where there is a demand for coal. The mines of the

South Maitland field have a demand in the Inter-State markets, but if they cannot get the necessary explosives they cannot get the coal that is required. I hope that the remarks of the honorable member for Newcastle will be given consideration. I might remind honorable members that I have brought the question of the establishment of a testing station for explosives under the notice of the present Prime Minister and of his predecessor at different times during the last three or fouryears. I hope that something will be done to establish such a station. If we are to be a self-contained people, we should take the necessary steps for the establishment of the manufactures we require. If explosives are manufactured here, they have to be sent to the Old Country to be tested before they can be used in gaseous mines. The questions which have been raised are serious, and are well worthy of the consideration of the Prime Minister.

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