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Thursday, 15 July 1915

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - I am rather pleased with the debate that has taken place, for I think members of the Senate have done credit to themselves by debating these serious propositions in a serious way. My only regret is that the offer of the Government, made in both Houses, to accept the assistance of the Opposition in so moulding these measures as to give the Commonwealth all the necessary powers, was not accepted. I issued that invitation in my second-reading speech, following the example of the AttorneyGeneral in another place, with the full intention of accepting any reasonable amendment that would give effect to what we desire in better language than we had put forward. If honorable senators had any doubt of the sincerity of my offer, they needed only bo cast their minds back to a little more than twelve months ago, when I suggested on the eve of the election that Senator McGregor, that worthy man whose place I so unworthily fill, and Senator Millen should across the table devise the measures necessary to give the Commonwealth Parliament the requisite powers. I listened with a good deal of attention and interest to Senator Keating's speech, and gathered that he had detected a few changes in the measures since they last appeared here. I wish to make it clear that, in a few words I used on that point in my second-reading speech, I indicated that changes had been made. I said -

No less than four times already this Chamber has passed, if not these identical Bills, almost similar measures, and yet they have not been finally disposed of.

Therefore, although I did not go into the details of the changes, I directed attention to the fact that the Bills were nob identical with those passed before, and I was rather interested, not to say amused, by the care with which Senator Keating pointed out that some of the changes followed on the lines suggested by him when dealing with the proposals fromthe platform in Tasmania in the previous campaign. If Senator Keating can suggest amendments in that round-about fashion, why does he not use his power in this Chamber to put before us and the country such amendments as will give us the exact powers that he thinks should be given? That is a fair and reasonable request to make of any honorable senator. But we are told that extraordinary powers are being sought. For instance, nearly the whole of Senator Bakhap's speech was directed against me, in answer to a speech that I never made. He made out that I advocated the fixing of prices as a way out of the present difficulty. I made no such statement. All I have asked for on the public platform is that the Commonwealth .Parliament should be given the power to deal with the trusts and combines which are now fixing prices. I believe the greatest virtue of these powers will be exactly the virtue of the Defence power - that is, if you have guns and men to defend your country, you are not likely to be attacked.

Senator Bakhap - Does the Minister say that the Commonwealth, if given these powers, will not attempt to fix prices ?

Senator GARDINER - It would be just as absurd for me to say what the Commonwealth will not attempt to do as to say what it will attempt to do. To me, the chief feature of these measures is that the combines, knowing that a Parliament elected by the whole of the people has power to deal with them, will scarcely enter into their organizations, or attempt to take from the people unfair or unreasonable profits. They can do it now, because no power exists to stop them. We have it on the evidence of the ablest men on the other side that increased powers are necessary. Sir William Irvine said it was necessary to have power to deal with trusts and combines, that the Commonwealth Parliament had not those powers, and that the States were unable to deal with the trusts. These facts should appeal to honorable senators, and I believe they will. Senator "Gould's only reason for opposing the measures - and he takes a most reasonable view, admitting that the people should be given an opportunity to vote on them - is that, on account of the war, this is not the time to submit them to the people, and that we should deal with war matters only. If I thought that submitting them to the people would in any way prevent the Government from doing all that any Government could do to insure that Australia does its full part in the present conflict, I would join

Senator Gouldin refusing to put them before the people, and so would every other honorable senator who sits on this side of the Chamber. Every reasonable man, however, is convinced that the Government, since they took office, have done everything that could possibly be done by Australia in regard to the war, and that everything that can be done will be done in the future. We are told that it will upset the people to be asked to make up their minds on a question of such great magnitude. Does it upset the people to go to the theatre of a night and to their ordinary avocations in the day ? I venture to say that if there is one thing that leading men, particularly on the other side of the Chamber, should do at this juncture to assist the Government, it is- to help to restore to the people of this country that firmness which is essential for the proper conduct of the war.

Senator Findley - One thing that is upsetting the people is the excessive cost of living.

Senator GARDINER - Would it prevent any one from enlisting to know that with these powers in the hands of the Commonwealth Parliament the dependants whom he leaves behind him will have a Parliament, not only able, but willing, to protect them from the unfair charges that are being made on them at the present time? Take almost any of our food supplies; read the evidence given on oath before Royal Commissions, such, for instance, as the evidence that has been quoted in this debate to the effect that various companies have been .putting up their jams in smaller tins, so as to get a little more profit out of the people. An ounce or so of jam is missing from each tin, and, in the absence of the powers which we now seek, this Parliament is unable to deal with people who resort to these tactics. Then we have been told that the time is inopportune for referring these questions to the electors. " Why," I ask, " should they not be submitted to the people in time of war?" What occasion is there for any undue anxiety as to the outcome of this war? The situation is undoubtedly grave; but will any man who reads what is happening on the battle fronts of Europe say that it is not infinitely better to-day than it Was nine months ago? Will any man tell me, after reading the utterances of Lord Kitchener. that Great Britain, with 2,0.0.0,000 of trained men, is not in an infinitely better position now than she was when the war commenced? Why, then, this attempt to create a panic amongst the people by affirming that we must not do this, and we must not do that? Yesterday Senator Millen made a speech, of quite an unusual character. Frequently he is cutting in his remarks^ and often he makes a very logical address. But on the occasion on which he last spoke he appeared to have developed panic, and to have developed it in a" very bad form. He not only twitted me, but he attempted to hold me up to ridicule because I made- use of a phrase which I am not only not ashamed of having used, but which, when I read my utterance, as I propose to do, will cause his friends who cheered him to wonder-

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Read the Argus to-day.

Senator GARDINER - As I never read the newspapers of Melbourne, I am not aware of what, was published in that journal. Out of all my utterances upon the motion for the second reading of these Bills Senator Millen has selected the phrase, "Business as usual," and upon it he hung the major portion of his remarks. Let us see how I made use of that phrase. I have here a proof copy of the Hansard report' of my speech,, and I challenge Senator Millen and those who are supporting him to say there is anything in that speech to which they can take exception'. The only way in which I can account for- Senator Millen's hysterical address is by assuming that he merely had time to glance through my speech, and the phrase- in question was the one which chiefly struck him. Then with that skill of which we all know he is a master, he made an appeal which might have been very effective if it had been addressed to the members of the Australian Women's National League. When once he and his followers lose the support of that section of the community, I do not know where they will drift. I repeat that the honorable senator made an. hysterical attack upon me for having stated that our motto is "Business as usual." I wish to direct his attention, and that of those honorable senators who cheered him, to the exact way in which those words were used. I said -

If we can take the farmer and Ins son, surely we can take the produce of the farmer.

But have we taken that step? Have wo not rather followed the great example adopted by Great Britain in time of war, " Business as. usual " ? By that method the people have been going along in a much less hysterical manner than the people on the- other side. Our motto here is " Business as usual."

I have not altered or amended in any way anything that I said in that connexion as reported in Hansard- If we take as our motto, " Business as usual," what injurywill be inflicted ? Does Senator Millen imagine that I am not aware of the great events that are happening on the battlefields of Europe, and of the great part that we are playing in those events ?

Senator Millen - I assumed that the Vice-President of the Executive Council had not a knowledge of them.

Senator GARDINER - So far as the Government are concerned, we can take a calmer and more sensible view of those happenings because, before they materialized we were fully seized of how serious .they would be. We knew before they came about that Germany was not a Power which would crumple up when we shut our fist. We recognised that it would require the organized efforts of Great Britain and her Allies to beat Germany to her knees. But I have no hesitation in- saying that the organization o£ the Mother Country is infinitely stronger to-day than it was nine months ago.

Senator Bakhap - It would need to be..

Senator GARDINER - Thank God, it is. The Commonwealth can proudly point to: what it has done in this- momentous struggle. Nobody is more aware of that than are the members of the party with which I am associated. We- can point to what we have already done as an indication of what we will do> in the future; There has- not been any question- brought forward in the. public press, or in this Parliament, in which the, needs of the position have not been anticipated by the Government. People have* urged us. to" do this and that, but. when the full facts have been made known it has become only too apparent that the matter had already been taken in hand by the Ministry. In this connexion., I need only point to the manufacture of shells and munitions. Whilst the people were sleeping the Minister of Defence was taking all the necessary steps in those matters. I do not wish my remarks to develop into a party attack; but when Senator Millen takes some words which I uttered - words which, if they are not torn from their context, I have no reason to be ashamed of, but every reason to be proud of - and imputes, because of their use, that the Government were not aware of the grave crisis through which we were passing, my answer is that we were fully seized -of the situation, and because of that we have the resolution and the moral courage to meet even a temporary set-back without endeavouring to make the people tremble in fear and panic. I say that now is the time for healthy optimism on the part of people who have red blood running through their veins. Now is the time for Australia to show that it is going to conduct its business as usual. The moment we begin clamouring for war what will become of this country? If business should cease what will happen to it? If manufacturing operations come to an end what will happen to it? Ought we not rather to encourage the conduct as usual of every form of industry? I have not had a great experience in my present position, but no utterance of mine on the platform or elsewhere will aim at other than allowing the people to know the whole .truth - as much as the Government themselves know - and the truth is that, despite any panic-mongers in our midst, there is nothing to fear.

Senator Bakhap - Lord Roberts was called a panic-monger.

Senator GARDINER - I do not care how my honorable friend may attempt to get back to the cries of years ago. I say that the man who, at the present time, will twist utterances, or misrepresent what is occurring, and thus mislead the people, is committing a grievous wrong. I believe that we should put forth all the efforts of which we are capable, and that we should train every, man who is willing to offer himself for service. Here I wish to say to the credit of Melbourne that the young men of this State are offering themselves in thousands at the present moment, and that the Government are providing for them. As fast as they come forward they will be put into training. This great war is not going to be affected by a sentimental cry. It is idle to urge that we should not do anything until the war is over. I wish I could see the end of the struggle, even next year. But the truth is .that nobody -can fix the time of its duration. In respect of the Bills which we are now considering, we propose to ask the electors to give this Parliament the power to deal with trusts, combines, .and monopolies, the power to prevent them taking an unfair profit, not only from the pockets of the people, but from the dependants .of the very men who, as Senator Millen remarked, have shed their blood -on the hills of Gallipoli. The widows .and orphans of our soldiers fighting there are having their small incomes depleted to an extent that is almost unthinkable by persons who merely desire an increased profit. During the course of this debate, reference has been made to the scarcity of butter in New .South Wales. If honorable senators will take the prices which have ruled for that article in Melbourne during .the past four months, and compare them with the prices in Sydney, they will find that, whereas, butter in the latter city has realized no more than Is. '6d. per lb., in the former it lias been sold at 2s. 3d. aud 2s. 4d. per lb.

Senator Bakhap - Why the great dearth of butter ?

Senator GARDINER - There are a great many reasons for that, but the chief reason -is that the butter is in the hands of a combine. Although there has been a high price levied to create an artificial scarcity, I have been informed on excellent 'authority .that the farmers taking cream to the factories have had it thrownback on their hands, with the .result that they have been obliged to turn their cattle out.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Sir AlbertGould. - Is not the difficulty of getting butter in Sydney due to the fact that it is not being produced?

Senator GARDINER - Until a month ago there was no difficulty in getting butter in Sydney for at least 6d. per lb. less than it could be obtained in Melbourne.

Senator Millen - Because the Board fixed an arbitrary price.

Senator O'LOGHLIN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - The article could not be bought as freely in Sydney.

Senator GARDINER - During thepast few weeks the people who control this particular article in Sydney havebeen attempting to make the scarcity more complete. They have been withholding their supplies from distributorswith a view to forcing the hands of the Necessary Commodities Board, and compelling it to increase the price. The- same thing has occurred in regard to flour.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - -Flour is £5 per ton dearer in Sydney to-day than it was previously, and that is owing to the action of the State Government.

Senator GARDINER - But does the honorable senator forget that from January right up to last week flour was selling in Sydney for at least £6 or £7 a ton less than in Melbourne; and, as Senator Mullan interjects, in Queensland, too?

Senator Bakhap - Because they cornered Australia's wheat.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - And created a monopoly.

Senator GARDINER - Because the State created a monopoly, and took that wheat for its own purpose, the Commonwealth Government say that, representing the whole people of Australia, as it does, it has the right to prevent a thing of that sort occurring again.

Senator Bakhap - Why did you not try to get for yourselves the power? You refused the power. I have offered it to you.

Senator GARDINER - I am asked to say why we did not give ourselves the power. I intend to show my honorable friend that we have done so in an unmistakable and indisputable manner. The section of the Constitution proposed to be amended by this Bill reads -

The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to -

(1)   Trade and commerce with other countries and among the States.

The words "with other countries and among the States" limit our legislative power. Therefore, we submit to honorable senators a Bill to strike those words out of the paragraph, so that we may have the power to make laws for the good government of the Commonwealth with respect to trade and commerce - not only trade and commerce with other countries, but also trade and commerce within each individual State. But the honorable senator says that that amendment will not prevent us from intercepting New South Wales if it wants to take next year's wheat crop, or Queensland if it wants to take next year's sugar crop, or Tasmania if it wants to' retain all its fine potatoes and apples. Let us see if it will not do so. Where the Constitution gives this Parliament full authority to deal with any subject, and a question arises as to whether the power of a Stat© or the power of the Commonwealth shall predominate, section 109 makes the Commonwealth law superior to the State law. But in section 51 there is something which, I feel sure, Senator Bakhap must have overlooked, else he would not have imagined that the proposed additional powers will be insufficient. I have shown that under paragraph i. of section 51, as proposed to be amended, we shall have the power to deal with trade within the States or within any one of them, or any trading under the jurisdiction of Australia. Under paragraph XXXI. of section 51 this Parliament has power to legislate with respect to -

The acquisition of property on just terms from any State or person for any purpose in respect of which the Parliament lias power to make laws.

Senator Bakhap - You have that . power now.

Senator GARDINER - Yes.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - That will not give you the power to take wheat from a State Government, but from any individual in the State you can.

Senator GARDINER - The Parliament possesses that power now, and we are not seeking to alter it. At the present time we have not the power to deal with trade within a State. But when the words "with other countries and among the States " are taken out of paragraph i. of section 51, it is unquestionable that our trade and commerce power will be unlimited. We shall have the power then to deal with the subject of trade within any State, and if New South Wales should take possession of next year's wheat crop, the Commonwealth Government could acquire that property in virtue of paragraph xxxi. of the section, because the grant of such power to the Commonwealth is quite clear and emphatic.

Senator Bakhap - Are you not exercising that power now, without the passage of these Bills, in connexion with the Queensland sugar crop? It is the action of the State which you cannot prevent.

Senator GARDINER - There, again, my honorable friend is trying, not to deceive the Senate, because he cannot do that, but to deceive himself. We are not exercising this power now with regard to the sugar crop in Queensland. The Premier of that State, in the exercise of his powers, is taking it over.

Senator Millen - And what then?

Senator GARDINER - The Premier of Queensland is handing over the sugar crop to the Commonwealth Government, but we have no power to compel him to do so. He is making a free offer to us, and under an agreement drawn up between the Premier of Queensland and the Commonwealth Government, and, further, an agreement with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, the people of the Commonwealth will get sugar at a reasonable price. But we have no power to enforce that bargain. We have no right to take one pound of sugar in Queensland.

Senator Bakhap - Where will the power come from when these proposals are passed?

Senator GARDINER - That is a sensible question, if the honorable senator will give me time to answer it; and that is just the reason why he has been opposing this measure. He is aware of the decision of the High Court that, although the Commonwealth Parliament has the power to deal with trade between States, it cannot interfere with trade within a State. But the omission of the words "with other countries and among the States" from paragraph i. of section 51 of the Constitution will leave the subjectmatter of trade and commerce indisputably in the hands of the Commonwealth Parliament.

Senator Bakhap - Nothing of the sort.

Senator GARDINER - Under paragraph xxxi. of the section, if we desire to acquire on just terms any property which a State Government holds, we can do so.

Senator Bakhap - What about the exemptions in the Nationalization of Monopolies Bill?

Senator GARDINER - There are certain exemptions named in that measure, but that does not affect in the slightest degree the question of our right to deal with trade and commerce.

Senator Bakhap - Does it not?

Senator GARDINER - I did hope, when I began, that if my honorable friend was not prepared to accept what' I was going to say in reply, he would be prepared to listen to reason. But I am quite ready to believe now that he is more anxious to -justify the attitude he has taken up out of the chamber that the proposed amendments give us all the power that we ask for.

Senator Bakhap - Why are the professional members of the Senate absolutely in accord with my opinions in this matter?

Senator Findley - One swallow does not make a summer.

Senator Bakhap - Why is Mr. Glynn in accord with my view?

Senator GARDINER - As regards one member of the' Senate, for whose opinions on constitutional questions I have a great deal of respect, I appeal to him to say whether, when this particular measure is passed, the Commonwealth Parliament will not have the power to deal with trade in each State?

Senator Keating - It undoubtedly will, but none of these amendments will touch the principle of the High Court's decision - that is, that the New South Wales Government exercised the inherent right of a sovereign State to acquire that property. It will still have that right.

Senator GARDINER - Of course it will, and we shall have the right to exercise a similar power as conferred upon us by this Bill, even to acquire that wheat from New South Wales.

Senator Keating - Yes, but the State can acquire it by Executive act.

Senator GARDINER - We can acquire it by an Act of Parliament or by an Executive act.

Senator Keating - There is no provision for dealing with a conflict between Executive acts.

Senator GARDINER - I think that Senator Bakhap is now satisfied that even the constitutional authority he appealed to will support me.

Senator Bakhap - He does not do any-, thing of the sort.

Senator GARDINER - Although we shall not be able to prevent New South Wales from doing what it did before, if the State takes a food supply to which the whole of the people of the Commonwealth are entitled we will have the constitutional authority to take steps to acquire the produce from the State Government.

Senator Keating - No; you are taking no power to override their Executive act.

Senator GARDINER - I do not desire to detain the Senate much longer,, although. these- questions are more than interesting. When the Trainers of the Constitution gave the Commonwealth Parliament the power to acquire property on just terms from, any State or person, for any purpose- in respect of which it has power to make laws, and when a proposed amendment of section 51 will empower the Parliament to deal with trade and commerce within a State., what is the use of an honorable senator quibbling, and saying that we cannot prevent an unjust act being done by a State to the rest of the people of the Commonwealth? We shall have unlimited powers to act.

Senator Bakhap - You will get a rude awakening,, I can. promise you.

Senator GARDINER - I venture to say that no persons* have had so rude an awakening, as to how the legislative powers of this Parliament would be interpreted as the men who really drafted the Constitution. Senator- Findley cited yesterday afternoon Acts of Parliament which had been declared unconstitutional by the High Court. One notable fact in connexion with the decisions was that the very Acts referred to had been passed, by the aid. of men who helped to frame- the Constitution and who- believed that they were* only exercising, the* powers which they had given the- people- of' Australia1 at the -Convention .

Senator- Bakhap.- Many a man has misconstrued an- agreement to which: he was a- party.

Senator GARDINER - I am not questioning that, but when we find that distinguished men, learned in the law, and most of them great parliamentarians - men like Sir Josiah- Symon. Mr. Alfred Dea-kin, Sir- George R'eid, Sir Edmund Barton, Mr Isaac Isaacs - assisted to pass Acts of Parliament, and that to- their surprise the High Court has- declared that this Parliament had not constitutional authority to do what it did, is not-, that a reason why the people of the Common,.wealth should, at any rate-, take to themselves the power which the framers of the Constitution imagined they had conferred on the Australian Parliament?

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould- - Remember that a majority of the members of the High Court Bench who gave those- decisions were in the- position the honorable senator has< stated.

Senator GARDINER - If those men failed to frame the Constitution in such a way as to give effect to their intention, what is the obvious duty of the people of the Commonwealth to-day? It is to say to- the men who- are interpreting the Constitution, " We will put the legislative powers in such language that there will be no mistake as to their meaning in the ' future." The responsibility for these questions being put to- the people at the present time rests- upon the members of the late Government. Twelve months ago; they could, have put the proposals to the people, and the matter would, have been settled.. I venture to say that had a vote been taken, on the subject at the last election no one would have been anxious to place the proposals, before the people- at the present moment, even if they had. been defeated then j but the late Government by an Executive act, refused to take that, course. The Senate, having by almost a unanimous vote passed the measures twice, acquired the constitutional right- to ask the people, to give a verdict,, but a few persons constituting: the Government for the time being refused to give the. electors an opportunity to. vote. When we propose now to consult, the people, our opponents say that the time is inopportune, that the people cannot grapple with such questions, during, the progress of' a war. Such statements emanate from those who do not want the people to deal with the proposal's. Whether in peace or in- war, the amendments are necessary. In my opening remarks I. said that- the measures were necessary in times of peace. They are ten- times more, necessary in times* of war. It is still' essential- that the Government should be armed with power to- protect the people- in a crisis of that kind. I appeal1 tor honorable senators not to. raise a party cry in the country as to these measures. I ask my honorable friends opposite in what way the measures, if carried, will give the Labour party any advantage over the Liberal party? In" what way, by making the Constitution, broader in the interests of the whole of the people, will the Labour party be given any advantage over- tha anti-Labour party ? If our honorable friends opposite secure a majority at the polls in eighteen months' time they can prevent anything being done under these proposals. If", on' the> other hand, we again secure a majority, surely the- people, who intrust us with the government of. the country may be asked to trust us with the powers necessary to govern it well. "We asked for these powers before, and they were refused. "We are going to ask fOr them again, and, though I do not know what the result will be, I personally have no fear of another refusal. When these proposals were submitted to .the people in 1911, and again in 1913, our political opponents said' that the high cost of living, which was complained of even at that time, was due, not to the operations of trusts and combines, but to the fact that the Labour party were in Parliament, and in control. Unfortunately for our friends opposite they got their turn of office. They remained in power for a little more 'than twelve months, and during the whole of that time the cost of living continued to soar higher and higher. I am not so unfair as to blame our political opponents for that, because the high prices were due to a power beyond them - the power of the trusts, combines, and monopolies, who were getting their grip on the food supplies of the people. We know the grip they have in other countries. We know that the Beef Trust of America fixes the price of the meat that appears on the breakfast tables of the people of London as well as of New York.

Senator Millen - Does the honorable senator say that monopolists put the price of wheat in New South Wales up to 5s. ?

Senator Pearce - Kept it down to 5s.

Senator GARDINER - Does Senator Millen contend that it was not monopolists who were responsible for that? I venture to say that, when the war started, the honorable senator, as one charged with responsibility for the government of the country, had experience enough to know that a few men were getting into 'their hands all supplies that they thought they could make money out of.

Senator Millen - I had no -knowledge of anything of the kind.

Senator GARDINER - It is strange to hear that the honorable senator should have been in office without obtaining that knowledge. I venture "to say that every man having responsibility for the government of the country must have been aware that it -was necessary for the Government to exercise their power to prevent men sending -coal out of the country which they knew -would be going -to an enemy ship, to prevent men sending wool out of -the country knowing that the re sult would be that our own men would be left without warm clothing or blankets, and to prevent men sending sugar and meat out of the country. If our honorable friends in Opposition are not aware that combines were prepared to do those things, it is time that they were made aware of it.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator's statement does not prove it.

Senator GARDINER - No ; but the record of Executive acts goes to prove that, in the matters I have mentioned, the Government were called upon to take action, and they did not take it without good reason. Does Senator Millen say that the Government were not -called upon to prevent coal leaving the country when the information they had led them to believe that it was intended to be supplied to the enemies' boats, or to prevent wool leaving the country, because, otherwise, our own people would be left destitute of warm clothing ?

Senator Millen - It was stopped, not because we should be left destitute, but for fear that it would find its way into enemy bands.

Senator GARDINER - That is exactly what I am saying. I am pleased that the honorable senator agrees with me. If he did not understand what I -was saying, I apologize for not having made myself clear. The export of these commodities was stopped because it -was feared that they -would find their way into enemy hands. Who would 'profit if they found their way into enemy hands? Who was profiting by our wool, coal, and meat going out of the country"? I am not going to say that these men were sending these goods direct to the enemy, but we had to stop their export because they might find their way into enemy hands. I do not wish to argue the matter further. I am satisfied with Senator Millen's admission that we had to stop the export .of these goods because we knew that they were finding their way into enemy hands. I say that the public of Australia should be made aware of the fact that the very things which our soldiers and their wives and families needed were finding their way into enemy hands, and the Government took steps to prevent them leaving the country.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Sir AlbertGould. - It was not necessary to amend the .Constitution to enable the Government to do so. Every one recognises that they had the right to do that in the circum-

Senator GARDINER - I have heard the interjection that we had the power to do what we did in that connexion. Fortunately we did have that power, and we say that, as a Government, we are responsible for our actions. But we have not the power to protect the people in the various States. We can buttress that assertion by a reference to the opinions expressed by men of the calibre of Sir William Irvine, Mr. Glynn, and other men high in the public life of this country, who are agreed that we have not, in this Parliament, the power to deal with trusts and combines. It is because we believe that a Parliament elected by the whole of the people should have these powers that we propose these amendments of the Constitution. I do not expect any great results to follow from a power to fix prices. I do not imagine that that should be regarded as the be-all and end-all of everything. But I earnestly believe that when we are possessed of the power to deal with trusts and combines - and I look forward hopefully to the time when this Parliament will be intrusted with that power - there will be no combines to deal with, because it will not be profitable for men to attempt to set up nefarious business amongst a free people who can combat them, not in this State or in that, but from one end of the Commonwealth to the other.

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